|Satan, Venus, Christ and the Gas Giants: A Miltonic Parable
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|Author:||Robert Tulip [ Thu Mar 05, 2009 7:13 am ]|
Frank, thanks for the Jesus Puzzle link. It is a good read and very informative. It certainly pares back the scope of who the historical Jesus may have been, especially with the absence of any historical reference from the epistles. The discussion of the source of the Gospels in the document known as Q could well contain the counter-cultural ethical teachings from Jesus which are at the heart of the gospels. Beyond this, it seems clear that the overall narrative was gradually compiled from various sources, in the classic case of proof by authority.
It reminds me of Anselm's argument for the existence of God that if we conceive of a perfect being, then its existence is the crowning perfection we can imagine, and therefore it must exist. Kant was called the 'all-destroyer' for his observation that existence is not a real predicate. By the same logic the existence of Jesus as depicted is proven more by the fact that people would like it to be so than by evidence.
Yet, I have to agree with Tom Harpur that these scientific observations can serve more to deepen faith than to undermine it. In terms of the discussion in this thread, there was something immensely special in cosmic terms about the time of Christ, as a time when the seasons and the stars were aligned, and in physical terms it is meaningful to speak of the incarnation of God in the world. In Chapter 14 of my essay on this topic from a few years ago I made the following comment,
This is a Christian cosmology which like Tom Harpur's does not depend on the existence of a historical Jesus for its meaning.
|Author:||Thomas Hood [ Thu Mar 05, 2009 8:27 am ]|
I need to look into these things because they are relevant to The Name of the Rose. Many pictures of the Chartes zodiac on the Internet too.
Jacob's blessings (Genesis 49) are more like prophecies. I haven't thought on these things since I was reading Swedenborgian literature 40 years ago and don't remember what conclusions I reached then. But the 12 tribes are traditionally associated with the 12 signs of the zodiac.
This is from Moses's blessing in Deuteronomy 33. There is a question about the word "shoes." Modern translations favor 'lock' or 'bolt' for the Hebrew word, but "shoes' fits in context, and also accords with zodiacal correspondence, since Asher is the last of the tribes and Pisces (ruler of the feet) is the last sign of the zodiac.
The Bible is such an undecided book that there is nothing for atheist and theist to argue about, in my opinion.
|Author:||Frank 013 [ Thu Mar 05, 2009 11:03 am ]|
I’m glad you liked it. But as the author explains; the earliest writings of Jesus describe him as a spirit not a man, he was an embodiment of mental wisdom a “logos”, not a flesh and blood person.
And if people so close to the time Jesus was said to have lived did not mention or even know about his earthly existence it seems unlikely that a real Jesus inspired any part of the biblical text.
Still clinging to that little thread of hope I see…
I thought the author made it clear that the vast majority of that material was hand me down sayings from older scriptures; and from many different locations, vastly spread out, its not at all likely that a historical Jesus was responsible for any of it.
And since most of the well known and cherished parts of the scripture can be shown to come from somewhere else (at least in meaning, if not word for word) what’s left is less than impressive. If you want to believe that some guy named Jesus was the author of that remaining material it can’t be disproven, but it certainly is not very noteworthy or special.
Well if you mean that it stretches the belief farther from reality… requiring a greater leap of faith… than I totally agree.
|Author:||Robert Tulip [ Thu Mar 05, 2009 3:03 pm ]|
This has me really intrigued. Earl Doherty presents a very coherent explanation for the emergence of Christianity, with the Mark narrative only gaining traction late in the second century as the Jesus story proved useful for the new faith. I thought though that his dismissal of Paul was overstated. I would be interested in his comment on lines like 1 Corinthians 2: 1-2: “I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.” Similarly, Colossians 1:15-20 does have a cosmic logos theme, but radicalises it with the idea of incarnation on the cross: “He is the image of the invisible God...God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 20and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.”
It seems to me there is a stronger theology of the cross in the Pauline literature than Doherty acknowledges, and this indicates a material belief in an actual Jesus who died. Despite these quibbles, Doherty makes a strong case. I was particularly taken by his observation that a main second century apologist, Minucius Felix “is one Christian who will have no truck with those, in other circles of his religion, who profess the worship of a Jesus who was crucified in Judea under the governorship of Pontius Pilate.” As Doherty points out, this state of affairs seems simply incompatible with the orthodox idea that Jesus was the founder of Christianity in the conventional view. Similarly, his observation that the name Jesus Christ simply means the anointed saviour of God indicates an ideal myth rather than an actual person. Yet this Neoplatonic ideal tendency is potentially just one end of the continuum of views ranging from focus on the actual man at ne end, through the orthodox view that the man was divine, to Minucius' view that Christ was solely divine.
Frank, I admit I have an emotional commitment to the Gospel story, rather like Anselm's fallacious reasoning that I quoted above that a perfect story becomes even more perfect for us if we believe it is true. However, I still feel that an actual Jesus figure could have originally collected these sayings. The paradoxical nature of the central teaching that the last will be first gives some credence to an invisibility of Jesus to the wider world through historians such as Philo.
No, it is rather about transforming the faith into a real possibility rather than accepting mythical traditions based on authority. What remains special to me, and here I return again to the cosmic theme of this thread, is that the time of Christ was in astronomical terms a moment of celestial harmony and a turning point of time. The cosmic wheel of precession then reached a time in which the seasons aligned with the stars, with the first point of Aries defined by the start of spring occurring when the sun entered the constellation of Aries, etc. This cosmic harmony is actually what I understand primarily by the idea of the incarnation of the divine logos. It is a jarring and foreign form of thought, but unlike conventional Christianity is actually compatible with modern scientific knowledge so does not require a leap of faith.
|Author:||Interbane [ Fri Mar 06, 2009 12:57 am ]|
RT: "No, it is rather about transforming the faith into a real possibility rather than accepting mythical traditions based on authority."
I've seen you write this a couple of times. It makes me wonder, are saying that your personal faith is greater due to your cosmic interpretations?
RT: "It is a jarring and foreign form of thought, but unlike conventional Christianity is actually compatible with modern scientific knowledge so does not require a leap of faith."
Your interpretation is not falsifiable nor testable, it's not science. The workings of the celestial bodies in the solar system are subject to science, but the correlation between that and the bible is not.
I propose that we are all players in a video game created by aliens and only exit the game when we die. We score points based on certain accomplishments in life. One of those accomplishments is to find patterned and symbolic correlation between our solar system and the christian bible. Unfortunately for you, that accomplishment was coded into the game and is meaningless beyond the points it awards us.
|Author:||Robert Tulip [ Fri Mar 06, 2009 5:23 am ]|
Yes, my faith is based on this cosmic interpretation, and the study that I have done of it convinces me it is correct. My argument is that precession is the main structure of time for our planet. This is a falsifiable claim. Accepting the common western astrological symbolism, the turning point of time is the zero point of the Western calendar. Whether this is testable is much tougher. I started from this interpretation and began looking for correlations with it within the Bible. To my ongoing astonishment I have found that such correlations are present in amazing depth and number. Yet, as DH Lawrence argues, this paganism in the Bible has been systematically repressed and ignored. The idea of a shift from an age of belief (Pisces) to an age of knowledge (Aquarius) correlates to a shift from a faith based on authority to a faith based on evidence. In terms of the Gospel parable of the wheat and tares, authority is the weeds while evidence is the wheat.
Incorrect. The correlations I describe are primarily based on evidence. For example, the loaves and fishes do correlate directly to the signs Virgo and Pisces which mark the new age that began with Christianity. The twelve jewels at the foundation of the imagined holy city do in fact symbolise the signs of zodiac in reverse. The Christian fish symbol, correlating with the sign of Pisces, was in fact used in the Roman world as an indicator of common membership in a new age. I agree that there is a scientific problem regarding why the Pisces-Aries precessional cusp is a turning point for the whole Great Year, but this is a scientific problem which is amenable to research and analysis, not a matter of blind faith. Since the dawn of life the equinox has precessed about 175,000 times, while the signs have cycled four billion times. Here we have the actual 'eternal return of the same' which Nietzche groped for.
Interbane, this is just the same as your earlier comment to the effect that the pattern of footprints in the sand are not evidence that a person walked there. When we see patterns we look for explanations. That is what science is.
|Author:||Frank 013 [ Fri Mar 06, 2009 11:20 am ]|
A cross image says nothing to support a real person, remember that the upper planes in the old way of thinking had their parallels on earth… the cross image is still very likely entirely spiritual.
Doherty’s comments on the matter are here…
No actual Jesus dying was necessary to support the cross imagery, it could be simply a spiritual cross, which seems probable considering the rest of the works involved.
If so who was Paul talking about in his epistles?
Remember that the current gospel writings were written and compiled much after Paul wrote his works, most of the quotations and events in the gospels were unknown to Paul and the other early Christian writers.
"Do not repay wrong with wrong, but retaliate with blessing,"
Became Jesus’ turn the other cheek for example.
For your current suggestion to be true Jesus would have to have been around after Paul wrote his works because the stories and quotes of wisdom did not exist in their current form in Paul’s time, some were still embedded in the old Jewish text others spread throughout the regions.
The idea that a Jesus character spoke some of the early sayings cannot be disproven, but it seems unlikely, especially considering the many years that they were accumulated over and the different cultures and regions involved. In addition and as I said before, the quotations that cannot be accounted for in other works are not very impressive or noteworthy, they do not make up the core beliefs of Christianity.
It seems more likely that there might have been a Jesus or many Jesuses that were absorbed into the myth after the initial spirit idea began to get misinterpreted, it is possible that those other Jesus stories were added after the fact and did not in fact inspire the religion, but were added to it.
Many people Named Jesus lived and died in the ancient world within very human parameters, most of those recorded died in rather less than glorious ways.
But who knows some of their stories could now be embedded into the current myth…
|Author:||Robert Tulip [ Fri Mar 06, 2009 3:56 pm ]|
Frank, this discussion of whether Jesus was a real person is an interesting and useful tangent to the purpose of this thread, which is basically to show that the Christian messianic idea is imbedded in the cosmos. Whether or not the Gospel myth of Christ originated with a single person, there is an actual scientific structure of time which can legitimately be identified with the Christian Logos - the connecting framework of reality – in the astronomical cycle of precession. My point here is that this underlying scientific basis gives the debate its purchase on reality. I like the Gospel myth and am emotionally predisposed to think of Jesus as a person. Whether or not this is so makes a difference to the institutional church but makes no difference to my theology, which is entirely new.
Reading Doherty, I get the impression there may have been a complete disjunct between Paul and the Apostolic community of Jesus. Paul was such a powerful and lucid writer that people assumed he was connected to the Jesus movement, but as Doherty points out, Paul's ideas seem to come from his own imagination rather than any tradition. So any discrepancy between the Epistles and the Gospels can be explained away by Paul's complete ignorance of and indifference to the historical story.
I would entertain Doherty's idea that Paul did not think Jesus was a real person except that in Romans 1:3 Paul says Jesus Christ "was descended from David according to the flesh." Similarly, in Galatians 4:4, Paul writes “when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law.” The point of the term flesh throughout Paul's writings is that it is material. Doherty seems to be selectively reading Paul to fit his Procrustean agenda, ignoring the bits that don't fit his claim, effectively that Paul started the Docetist Heresy. Doherty is mentioned on the Docetism wiki, leading to another interesting wiki on the Jesus Myth Hypothesis which gives some good background on my own cosmological theory.
The first epistle of John expands Paul's theme of flesh, saying "many false prophets have gone out into the world. This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist." Clearly here we have the emerging political orthodoxy set up as a test to unify the church, to weed out the implicit Pauline heresy of a metaphysical cross. There is something ominously Leninist in the tone of this test of the true faith. A range of 'Christians' (such as Felix discussed above) had ideas about the meaning of the New Age of the Logos, and these were steadily brought to heel in the political battle against the Old Age of pagan polytheism.
My impression is that the actual Jesus tradition may well have existed in secret isolation alongside the missionary evangelical community led by Paul. This is explicable by fear of persecution, that the holders of the Gospel message may have initially wished to protect it in secret. It is rather like the Holy Blood Holy Grail fable of Mary Magdalene secretly going to Marseilles pregnant with Christ's child who became the progenitor for the Merovingian kings - a lovely possible myth kept secret for fear of violence.
|Author:||Penelope [ Fri Mar 06, 2009 4:22 pm ]|
Or the myth that the Queen of Sheba was a black lady from Ethiopia and took the Arc of the Covenant back to her home, whilst pregnant with Solomon's child.
But there is a mural - wall carving - on the wall of Chartres cathedral depicting this.....she is definitely a negress, I have been to look....twice.
But it is only a myth.....the possibility that it is true is backed up by the fact that there is a tribe of black Jewish people in Ethiopia who have been so isolated from other jews, that they do not have the more recent festivals and rituals and only adhere to the more ancient ones.
However, I haven't been to Ethiopia and spoken to those Jews....but here is a good example of how myths are perpetrated. I do love a mystery.
|Author:||Interbane [ Fri Mar 06, 2009 4:41 pm ]|
RT: "Yes, my faith is based on this cosmic interpretation, and the study that I have done of it convinces me it is correct. My argument is that precession is the main structure of time for our planet. This is a falsifiable claim."
So you are speaking only of the workings of our solar system? I understand them and trust in much of what I read about them. As we model our time measurement after the rotation of the Earth and the Earth around the Sun, any claims that the structure of time for our planet is based on such are painfully obvious and has nothing to do with Christianity. I’m sure other people feel the same, even the people who wrote the bible, or ancient architects. The way I see it, it’s a one way street. Christianity has a lot to do with the celestial clockwork, but the celestial clockwork has nothing to do with Christianity. The theologians read the stars, but the stars don't read the theologians.
RT: "Incorrect. The correlations I describe are primarily based on evidence. For example, the loaves and fishes do correlate directly to the signs Virgo and Pisces which mark the new age that began with Christianity."
If all you are saying is that some of our ancestors were adept at astronomy and used their findings in the religion and architecture they created, my intuition tells me there isn’t a problem.
RT: "Interbane, this is just the same as your earlier comment to the effect that the pattern of footprints in the sand are not evidence that a person walked there. When we see patterns we look for explanations. That is what science is."
Sure, and if the hypothesis we devise to test our explanation isn’t falsifiable, then it’s not science. Also, my mention of the footprints in the sand most definitely was evidence that a person walked there, you completely missed my point.
|Author:||Robert Tulip [ Fri Mar 06, 2009 11:03 pm ]|
You misunderstand. Precession results in the earth spinning like a top with one wobble per 26000 years. A good scientific diagram is here. My argument is that central Christian concepts, notably Logos and the Age, are intrinsically built into this temporal structure. I claim this cyclic structure resonates with daily and annual cycles to produce real millennial periods.
It is more than that. Yes, the cosmos in extensively depicted in ancient religion, as Tom noted with the common presence of zodiacs in synagogues, and iconic motifs such as the Christ Pantocrater Mandorla, deriving from the claim that Christ incarnated a cosmic reality. Use of such cosmic findings is a way of searching for an explanation of how our world ultimately connects to the cosmos. If we take this cosmic identity as the primary meaning of the Christ myth, in line with Biblical ideas such as Colossians 1:17 “He is before all things, and in him all things hold together” together with the Logos imagery of John 1 “in the beginning was the Word”, I simply cannot see how we can find a rational underpinning other than interpreting Christ as a symbol of the precessional structure of time. This cycle provides the long term structure of time for our planet, and is what the ancients pointed at in numerous obscure coded references.
Complete falsifiability would establish that Christianity is necessary. For my purpose it is sufficient to establish that Christianity is possible.
I may have misread your intention, but your statement was unclear. You said
Your 'footprints in the sand' comment is ambiguous regarding what is 'objectively real' and what is 'metaphysical'. These are slippery concepts. The creature who made the footprints is precisely analogous to the Logos as the connectedness of precession. I am arguing that the Logos, which the ancients identified with Christ, is objectively real and is displayed in the precessional structure of time, and that this hypothesis is a scientific argument. Testing it is primarily a matter of systematically analysing history and the Bible against this framework. Of course the Logos is far harder to define than a person walking with trousers rolled on a beach, but you cannot use this complexity to flatly state the Logos is not real. I recognise it is a complex claim and difficult to test or prove, but that does not make it impossible. Your simple dogmatic assertion that it is untestable is not based on real examination, but rather on an agenda that the past errors of Christianity invalidate any effort to make religion and science compatible.
|Author:||Interbane [ Sat Mar 07, 2009 3:01 am ]|
RT: "You misunderstand. Precession results in the earth spinning like a top with one wobble per 26000 years. A good scientific diagram is here. My argument is that central Christian concepts, notably Logos and the Age, are intrinsically built into this temporal structure. I claim this cyclic structure resonates with daily and annual cycles to produce real millennial periods."
Actually, I think I understand quite well, but not with any of the depth in which you understand it. My problem is with some of your phrasings. For example, you say "My argument is that central Christian concepts, notably Logos and the Age, are intrinsically built into this temporal structure." Logos and the Age aren't built into this structure, they are explanatory models helpful to our understanding of the mechanics of this structure.
RT: "Use of such cosmic findings is a way of searching for an explanation of how our world ultimately connects to the cosmos."
This presumes our world does ultimately connect to the cosmos in some metaphysical way. Earth is a part of the heavens, and interacts in measurable ways, but this is explained mechanistically. When you say that you're searching for further explanation, I take you to mean that you believe there's some connection above and beyond the mechanistic. Could you be more precise in what this connection is?
RT: "If we take this cosmic identity as the primary meaning of the Christ myth, in line with Biblical ideas such as Colossians 1:17 “He is before all things, and in him all things hold together” together with the Logos imagery of John 1 “in the beginning was the Word”, I simply cannot see how we can find a rational underpinning other than interpreting Christ as a symbol of the precessional structure of time.
If you present a vague enough prophecy, it's bound to come true. "He is before all things, and in him all things hold together" is like saying "all reality is begotten from my spirit"(I just made that up, but I'm sure there's a similar phrase somewhere). You take such a general statement and use it as evidence that Christ is a symbol of the precessional structure of time! This is subjective validation, a cognitive bias.
You stretch vague and general scripture to support a rational underpinning, but what exactly is a rational underpinning in the first place? A rational way to pin together your religious blues clues so that your theological worldview doesn't come crashing down?
RT: "This cycle provides the long term structure of time for our planet, and is what the ancients pointed at in numerous obscure coded references."
I wouldn't argue that the ancients discovered some of the mechanical workings of our solar system. When you say 'structure of time', you don't mean the cycle is fundamental to the workings of time, correct? It might be better to say that the precession is temporally repeating, therefore useful to us as a framework to measure longer lengths of time than a year.
RT: "Your 'footprints in the sand' comment is ambiguous regarding what is 'objectively real' and what is 'metaphysical'. These are slippery concepts."
They are so much fun to ponder for that reason! The ambiguity comes from the inability of the human brain to divorce its methods of understanding reality from reality itself. We cannot know reality without our cognitive framework. When considering footprints in the sand, the only thing objectively real about them are the footprints themselves. We as deliberators can read into that pattern and reason that a creature made them. We could also be mistaken, since there are other ways footprints could be in the sand.
There are two things to take from the example. One is that the footprints are distinctly separate with no objectively real connection(again, this is difficult to grasp as it requires divorcing 'understanding' from 'reality'), and the other is that the explanation for the pattern can easily be false.
RT: "I am arguing that the Logos, which the ancients identified with Christ, is objectively real and is displayed in the precessional structure of time, and that this hypothesis is a scientific argument."
Is the Logos a concept open to critical examination? Is the Logos as Christ a connection that's open to critical examination? When you say that it's 'displayed', you don't mean visually, so what do you mean?
RT: "Your simple dogmatic assertion that it is untestable is not based on real examination, but rather on an agenda that the past errors of Christianity invalidate any effort to make religion and science compatible."
I've criticized your inclusion of religion a couple of times, but I'd like to think most of the time I've taken to critically examine what you've posted. I probe deeper, but you still have yet to offer a hypothesis directly representing what you propose that's also testable:
RT: "Testing it is primarily a matter of systematically analysing history and the Bible against this framework."
You would discover correlations between findings in the ancient world and the workings of the solar system, but as a hypothesis this does nothing other than to show that our ancestors were able to read the stars as we are.
|Author:||Frank 013 [ Sat Mar 07, 2009 11:44 am ]|
Again you seem to miss the the “levels of the heavens” idea present in Paul’s writings, all of the above can still have happened up there, just like the cross. In fact Doherty did comment on those very passages…
Also, because in order for Christ Jesus to be the prophesized messiah he had to be in David’s line, even Paul knew that from the Torah, so it is no surprise that he would have added it… even if just in the spiritual realm.
This is complete speculation with absolutely zero bases in evidence. I also happen to see a pattern forming here… you will entertain any possibility (no matter how remote) in order to keep your precious Jesus alive… I think you might be doing the same thing with your Astro-Christianity proposition making leaps based more on your desire than on any concrete connection.
Don’t get me wrong your version is infinitively superior to the claims of current Christianity, but I still do not see you making the distinction between what is provable and the way you want it to be.
For example you need the time of the Christian movement to have been inspired by someone or something special or your Astro-Christianity proposition looses substance. The facts of the matter seem to bother you because there really was nothing special about those times, or the many people and cultures that contributed to the core beliefs in the biblical text.
The ideas presented in the biblical texts were not original or fresh even then, the many people involved in the early Christian writings were (In all likelihood) very normal and not super geniuses, the stories formed over hundreds of years and were (most likely) compiled from many separate areas and people, funneled down to what exists today, this makes a central story and teacher named Jesus nearly impossible and nothing special...
New evidence may shed more light on the subject and we all should be willing to accept it as it comes, we should not solidify ostentatious beliefs based on what little we actually know.
|Author:||Robert Tulip [ Sun Mar 08, 2009 1:22 am ]|
Hi Penelope, , I would like to come back to this comment of yours from 26 Feb. The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, the source of the coffee spoon line, is one of my favourite poems. There has got to be a deep irony in there somewhere that Eliot castigated Milton as one whose sensuousness had been "withered by book-learning" and claimed that Milton's poetry '"could only be an influence for the worse" and yet both share deep fascination for time and cosmology. As well, it is a fair question if Eliot can really be seen as more sensual than Milton in hindsight.
Prufrock starts with an epigraph from Dante’s Inferno, with considerable Miltonic resonance with its mythic narrative starting in Hell.
The “answer” given in the poem, intended for those who understand eternity, seems to be a contrast between the ordinary and the real understanding of time. Eliot first describes ordinary time, admittedly with a nod to Hesiod:
This ordinary time describes a world characterised by the banality of gossip. In condemning such shallow views, rather like Milton’s characterisation of fallen human life, Eliot asks "Do I dare disturb the universe? and then points toward real time:
This sense of “rolling the universe into a ball” reminds me of what I am doing here, looking at the whole of the solar system through long time. Lazarus, in the interpretation of Tom Harpur, signifies Osiris, Egyptian God of the Dead, with his cyclic sense of time that is quite foreign to the modern linear mentality. The extreme sadness of modernity, etherised on the table, shows through in the sense that Eliot is so removed from eternity that the magical sirens who should be expected to entice him could not be bothered.
Rather, the magical mermaids are preoccupied by natural cycles:
|Author:||Interbane [ Sun Mar 08, 2009 3:20 am ]|
I greatly enjoyed that poem, I've never read TS Elliot before.
"Should I, after tea and cakes and ices,
Have the strength to force the moment to its crisis?"
RT: "Lazarus, in the interpretation of Tom Harpur, signifies Osiris, Egyptian God of the Dead, with his cyclic sense of time that is quite foreign to the modern linear mentality."
Your mention of time being cyclic is interesting. From what I understand, the arrow of time continues on in one direction quite unlike Robert Jordan's "Wheel of Time." The synchronized and cyclical systems found throughout our universe unfortunately aren't perpetual motion systems. Although I'm not sure what the math says of the effects of entropy on the universe as a whole. We will forever "Big Bounce", and perhaps that is an infinite cycle.
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