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Suggestions needed for August & September 2011 NON-FICTION book discussion! 
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Post Re: Suggestions needed for August & September 2011 NON-FICTION book discussion!
I'm not giving this website up but I will have to give it a rest for a little while. I want many different flavors under an inclusive and creative atmosphere. This website has become pretty myopic. I'll be back at a later date... sooner than later, I promise. For now I'm going to broaden my horizons a little. BBL.



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Post Re: Suggestions needed for August & September 2011 NON-FICTION book discussion!
Damn, what'd I miss? LOL

Anyway, I understand that hashing over the religious stuff can get redundant at times here at booktalk and was probably not the original intended focus of Chris when he started it. But I think it has been made clear beyond all doubt in the past week or so that such a focus was almost entirely due to Stahrwe, because ever since he was banned, the religious threads have not gotten anywhere near as many bumps as they used to. They used to dominate the "Recent Posts" box, and now I hardly see them anymore. And I think that's a good thing for the time being. Lets take a break and see some fresh topics get the spotlight for a change.

However, the unique appeal of voting for Murdock's book this month as opposed to the other nominations so far, is that this time we have the opportunity to actually discuss it in depth with THE AUTHOR HERSELF.

No matter how redundant a topic may be at the moment, you can't pass up an opportunity to probe an author's mind directly like this. It'll be good for Booktalk.



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Thu Jul 07, 2011 3:37 am
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Post Re: Suggestions needed for August & September 2011 NON-FICTION book discussion!
this all touches quite an emotional nerve. I think Tat has over-reacted and that Camacho has a reasonable point. :ouch. I like it that Camacho speaks his mind quite bluntly.*

Looking at the recent discussions of non fiction, ones that have gone well include The Moral Landscape by Sam Harris and The Evolution of God by Robert Wright. Partly this is because they open interesting perspectives on atheism and raise ideas that are highly debatable within popular culture. Books that are less controversial seem to struggle to find people talking about them.

Tat makes a good point that Booktalk has never previously selected a book that advocates the argument that Jesus Christ did not exist. Over the time I have been here there has been discussion of such books, such as The Jesus Puzzle by Earl Doherty and The Jesus Mysteries by Freke and Gandy, as well as some of DM Murdock's work, but never as a selected book.

The passion that mention of Christ In Egypt arouses here indicates to me that there would be active participation, and that people could learn a lot from it. Murdock is a brilliant writer, but she is actually quite isolated as far as mainstream response is concerned, probably because of the vitriol of her opponents. Talking about why her ideas are controversial, and how they have been received, would be interesting.

* (must admit though that I was sad to see bleachededen leave after some robust commentary)



Thu Jul 07, 2011 6:23 am
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Post Re: Suggestions needed for August & September 2011 NON-FICTION book discussion!
Robert, of course Camacho had a reasonable point all along and I have no problem admitting that. It's reasonable to want to see more variety than just religious topics over and over again, especially from the perspective of someone who doesn't like the topic and has somewhere between little to no understanding of the topic. But did he have to try and draw me into a conflict over it?

You and I have debated things many times and disagreed time and again on certain points. But you're not a complete douche bag or an idiot in my view, Camacho is. Almost as big a douche as Stahrwe, but slightly lesser. And now he wears it as a badge in his signature line by his own doing. I must have struck an emotional nerve with that one. But you don't go starting fights you can't finish...


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Thu Jul 07, 2011 8:04 am
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Post Re: Suggestions needed for August & September 2011 NON-FICTION book discussion!
But, Robert, I will go ahead and apologize for calling Camacho a troll and comparing him to Stahrwe. I wouldn't want that to reflect badly on astrotheological studies or the subject matter involved in the suggested book. I know that Camacho has devised some strange ideas about what astrotheology is and about mythicism being some type of religious cult. But that's just due to not knowing or understanding what is actually going on. And reading this book would certainly clarify that. People taking the MP range from atheist to some open minded theists, which is the sort of crowd we have on the FTN. So much so that there's always little spats between theist and atheist perspectives of the MP. It's about as all inclusive as it gets in that respect. But you wouldn't know that by turning a blind eye to the whole thing and never looking into it...


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Thu Jul 07, 2011 10:33 am
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Post Re: Suggestions needed for August & September 2011 NON-FICTION book discussion!
Camacho brings up a good point in his usual direct and, admittedly, confrontational way. (Honestly, I'm not sure that calling him a "douche" is going to help matters muc--LOL).

Just to throw my two cents in, I've become rather disillusioned with the religious discussions here as well. Even before Stahrwe arrived on the scene, religion was usually the issue that generated the most discussion, and I don't see that as changing now that he's left. Personally, I'm interested in discussing religion purely from a scholarly or materialistic perspective. Whenever someone who is ideologically motivated gets involved, such purely analytical or scholarly dialogue is no longer possible. The Evolution of God by Robert Wright was a fascinating book and it started out as a great discussion until Stahrwe came in with his YEC-motivated derailments. I have argued here many times before that it is ultimately futile to have any kind of religious discussion with someone like Stahrwe who seems only motivated in rationalizing his existent religious beliefs. What has been most frustrating for me is that so many BT members have continued to debate Stahrwe to the point where we frequently had several threads going on at the same time with basically the same rational assertions hitting the same ideological brick wall over and over again ad nauseum. How many years would this have gone on if Stahrwe had not been booted? And, yet, as I explained to Chris in several PMs, this is obviously what many BT members want. They must get something out of it too. And, really, who am I to suggest a different direction for BT? I appear to be in the minority. So, in that sense, I totally commiserate with Camacho.

As for the D.M. Murdoch book, I'm tempted to join in simply to try to understand why the mythicist position is so appealing to a few people here. Unfortunately only a few people have expressed interest in discussing this book and, in my experience, these kinds of discussions--with only three or four people participating--tend to fall flat.


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Post Re: Suggestions needed for August & September 2011 NON-FICTION book discussion!
Thanks Geo. It's really nothing more than a scientific investigation approach towards the parallels between the Egyptian Religion and Christianity. Claims that were made in ZG part 1 are closely analyzed against the primary source material and scholarship both old and new. For whatever reason it may interest you, it would ultimatey be worthwhile to join in, scrutinize, ask questions, or whatever. And I'd make sure to have the author participating on top of that. This is one that I think needs to be discussed because of what it establishes and even the theory of Christian origins related near the end.


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Post Re: Suggestions needed for August & September 2011 NON-FICTION book discussion!
Tat, I bought one of Murdoch's books once--I think it was Who Was Jesus? Fingerprints of The Christ. (I'm on vacation and so I can't check my library right now.) Anyway, I know I shouldn't judge a book by its cover, but the design was just painfully amateurish and I never got around to reading it. To be honest, this book looks like one of those countless hokey "spiritual" self-help (and self-published) Christian propaganda books that are out there and left me a bit sour on Murdoch. Indeed, the whole Murdoch thing seems rather cultish to me for its reliance on conspiracy theories. I don't know if I will ever get past the notion that this is a fringe belief that ultimately will not be adequately supported by the facts, although obviously I will need to read one of her books and assess for myself.

I just checked Amazon and the cover may have been redesigned at some point.


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Post Re: Suggestions needed for August & September 2011 NON-FICTION book discussion!
WWJ is actually a good read. I'm sure you'd like it if find and read it. But as for CiE:

Quote:
I don't know if I will ever get past the notion that this is a fringe belief that ultimately will not be adequately supported by the facts, although obviously I will need to read one of her books and assess for myself.

First off, what "belief" are we talking about? Is there any call to "belief" in the first place? Certainly not in WWJ or CiE. Evidence of mythological parallels are discussed, theories of origins are discussed, sources are discussed, apologetic arguments are addressed, but nothing in the way of "belief" in any religious sense. These books are about scholarship which is why I and the others enjoy them. If this goes through and you join a discussion on CiE you'll be able to see for yourself (aside from what you've heard Robert or anyone else saying) what direction the books take.


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Thu Jul 07, 2011 11:53 am
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Post Re: Suggestions needed for August & September 2011 NON-FICTION book discussion!
tat tvam asi wrote:
First off, what "belief" are we talking about?


It's my sense that the theory that's being cultivated in Murdoch's books are that Jesus never existed. I will refrain from further comment until I get a chance to read one of her books. Thanks, Tat.


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Post Re: Suggestions needed for August & September 2011 NON-FICTION book discussion!
Tat anything that goes against this ancient hokey religion thats been crammed down their throats for the last 2000 years is not going to get acceptance. As far as this ancient hokey god man ever existing he was as big a lie as the rest of it. Murdoch did not say that I DID! Mighty damn frigging odd that as long as those who do not accept the status quo keep their mouth shut everything is fine but the minute some one dares to question this so called Christianity the lid blows off! Well I got news for christians if you think that you are the one religion and the only one your wrong! No where in your ancient hokey little book does it say that God accepted you as the only ones on the face of the earth. Man I hate this damn "I am better than you cause I am a cloud boy follower!"



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Post Re: Suggestions needed for August & September 2011 NON-FICTION book discussion!
Azrael wrote:
Tat anything that goes against this ancient hokey religion thats been crammed down their throats for the last 2000 years is not going to get acceptance. As far as this ancient hokey god man ever existing he was as big a lie as the rest of it. Murdoch did not say that I DID! Mighty damn frigging odd that as long as those who do not accept the status quo keep their mouth shut everything is fine but the minute some one dares to question this so called Christianity the lid blows off! Well I got news for christians if you think that you are the one religion and the only one your wrong! No where in your ancient hokey little book does it say that God accepted you as the only ones on the face of the earth. Man I hate this damn "I am better than you cause I am a cloud boy follower!"


!


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Post Re: Suggestions needed for August & September 2011 NON-FICTION book discussion!
geo wrote:
tat tvam asi wrote:
First off, what "belief" are we talking about?


It's my sense that the theory that's being cultivated in Murdoch's books are that Jesus never existed. I will refrain from further comment until I get a chance to read one of her books. Thanks, Tat.

That's the theory. I wouldn't say that it qualifies as a belief though. Only in the sense that I believe that Jesus may not have been historical in the first place. It's just an agnostic type of position. I don't think that we have enough evidence to move from an agnostic position of uncertainty to an evermerist or believer position. I don't see Murdock as ever telling people that they must believe that Jesus never existed as in the having faith he didn't exist sense. And that's one good example of something that can be asked of her in discussion.


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Post Re: Suggestions needed for August & September 2011 NON-FICTION book discussion!
geo wrote:
tat tvam asi wrote:
First off, what "belief" are we talking about?


It's my sense that the theory that's being cultivated in Murdoch's books are that Jesus never existed. I will refrain from further comment until I get a chance to read one of her books. Thanks, Tat.


What is interesting here as an opening question is to what extent the mythicist claim that Jesus Christ did not exist qualifies as a belief. To those who have not studied the evidence with an open mind, the mythicist argument looks like a belief just as much as the claim that Jesus did exist is a belief. However, the complete lack of evidence for the story of the Gospels, and the psychological and historical plausibility of the claim that the writers of the Gospels had motive, means and opportunity to fabricate a fictional story, qualifies the mythicist argument as a scientific hypothesis. A hypothesis is not a belief, it is a claim based on evidence that is open to falsification. To date, efforts to rebut the mythicist argument have relied on emotional appeals to apologetics. Examining it carefully will in my view show that the Christ myth theory is an elegant and parsimonious explanation of the facts that will come to be accepted as a mainstream view.

This material is entirely about achieving a scientific understanding of Christian origins. As well, the examination of the links to Egypt opens a whole realm of fascinating analysis of material that is weakly understood in the wider community, for example how the ancients actually based their belief systems in observation of nature, especially the sun and stars. Christ in Egypt is a scholarly work examining questions that have broad social and political implications. Its controversial contents indicate that discussion of it as a Booktalk nonfiction selection would generate a good level of interest.



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Post Re: Suggestions needed for August & September 2011 NON-FICTION book discussion!
Robert Tulip wrote:
To those who have not studied the evidence with an open mind, the mythicist argument looks like a belief just as much as the claim that Jesus did exist is a belief. However, the complete lack of evidence for the story of the Gospels, and the psychological and historical plausibility of the claim that the writers of the Gospels had motive, means and opportunity to fabricate a fictional story, qualifies the mythicist argument as a scientific hypothesis. A hypothesis is not a belief, it is a claim based on evidence that is open to falsification. To date, efforts to rebut the mythicist argument have relied on emotional appeals to apologetics. Examining it carefully will in my view show that the Christ myth theory is an elegant and parsimonious explanation of the facts that will come to be accepted as a mainstream view.


Just a few thoughts . . . I agree that there is little evidence for the existence of Jesus and I also agree that the gospel writers were manufacturing myths. Robert Wright makes a pretty convincing argument that the four canonical gospels produce an increasingly progressive message of universal of love whereas the historical Jesus probably cared only for the Jewish people. The Jesus who exhorts his followers to extend charity across ethnic boundaries and who preaches the parable of the good Samaritan doesn't exist in the the first gospel (Mark), written about 70 years after Jesus' death. It just seems more likely to me that a man named Jesus really existed and that his legend was simply embellished over time. We can find lots of examples of such embellishments throughout history. Likewise, it seems unlikely that the entire Jesus story was simply invented. There are some unusual and idiosyncratic aspects to his life that are consistent with a real person being made into a myth rather than a god persona manufactured out of thin air.

Even with a complete absence of evidence, it seems a more parsimonious explanation that some person named Jesus did actually exist who received some notoriety at the time of his life and in the aftermath of his death. This is indirect evidence, but in the absence of positive evidence for an alternative explanation (such as a conspiracy), a real Jesus seems a more logical assumption. Indeed, this is a bit like tracing the origins of an expanding universe and extrapolating a Big Bang that started it all.

Another issue that I can observe (without having read Murdock yet) is that there doesn't seem to be much scholarly consensus for the mythicist argument. This doesn't rule out the mythicist argument, of course, but it does raise some questions for me (as a layperson). If there was compelling evidence for the mythicist argument, it seems likely that other scholars would have taken notice. And this is why the mythicist argument sounds like its leaning towards a belief. Has Murdock written five or six books just to argue that the Jesus story might have been completely fabricated? And ultimately, I'm not sure that it matters if Jesus really existed or not. What does matter is that the Jesus story was embellished and has evolved and become indistinguishable from myth over time.


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Last edited by geo on Fri Jul 08, 2011 1:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.



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