Making sense of the NT

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Sherlock Holmes
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Making sense of the NT

Post #1

Post by Sherlock Holmes »

Hello,

I've been debating (online) against atheism for many years, I'm very well educated in the sciences and to a lesser degree, philosophy.

However - and I know I'm not alone here - Christianity itself, the New Testament, remarkable and thought provoking as it is, and not questioning the legitimacy of the texts we have access to, I am ultimately deeply puzzled by it all.

Christ revealed some deeply profound things, completely dumbfounding prevailing Jewish beliefs and this goes in its favor, as it's sheer radicality is just not something I'd expect to simply emerge from prevailing ideas.

Yet it makes no sense at the end of the day, for example why go to all this trouble? the entire human race is in a state of anguish, confusion and beginning to collapse, why is that logically necessary as part of creation?

What exactly are humans expected to do? it is far from clear (as is evidenced by the many doctrinal arguments over the past twenty centuries).

So that's my position, I'm interested in hearing some candidate answers!
When one has eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.

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Re: Making sense of the NT

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Post by TRANSPONDER »

One argument that has popped up in discussion - and it's probably not a very common one amongst believers - is that God is Not omnicognisant. He did not know how everything is going to turn out before He began creation and has in fact been reacting to events and coming up with fixes up to the present.

Now that would explain a few things but, if I was a Believer, I'd find it pretty alarming; and as a non -believer it sounds like 'Nobody is in control, and God is just an extra claim popped in there'.

So I suppose the Believer reaction to that is going to be 'God knows best'. The idea that, no matter how incoherent and out of control it seems to be, God knew everything from the start, has his plan and this was absolutely the best plan he could devise to obtain His objectives.

That takes a lot of Faith, and even more denial of the more credible hypothesis - nobody is in control and we are on our own, but I'd guess that is the one the majority of believers will opt for.

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Re: Making sense of the NT

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Post by theophile »

Sherlock Holmes wrote: Wed Dec 29, 2021 11:14 am Yet it makes no sense at the end of the day, for example why go to all this trouble? the entire human race is in a state of anguish, confusion and beginning to collapse, why is that logically necessary as part of creation?
Who said that all this mess is logically necessary? I don't recall any such mention of that in the Gen 1 creation narrative. Debatable if that's what Gen 2-3 conveys.

That said, I do think there are variable elements and a chaotic potential in creation. But that doesn't necessarily mean the anguish and confusion you speak of.
Sherlock Holmes wrote: Wed Dec 29, 2021 11:14 am What exactly are humans expected to do? it is far from clear (as is evidenced by the many doctrinal arguments over the past twenty centuries).
Per Gen 1 I'd suggest something along the lines of filling the earth with life and subduing it. Or per Gen 2, to "work and till" the garden. So from both of those references I would think of our role as something akin to a gardener. Creating the conditions for life. Creating a harmony of life. Making sure life of every kind can flourish. That kind of thing.

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Re: Making sense of the NT

Post #4

Post by Sherlock Holmes »

theophile wrote: Wed Dec 29, 2021 12:11 pm
Sherlock Holmes wrote: Wed Dec 29, 2021 11:14 am Yet it makes no sense at the end of the day, for example why go to all this trouble? the entire human race is in a state of anguish, confusion and beginning to collapse, why is that logically necessary as part of creation?
Who said that all this mess is logically necessary? I don't recall any such mention of that in the Gen 1 creation narrative. Debatable if that's what Gen 2-3 conveys.

That said, I do think there are variable elements and a chaotic potential in creation. But that doesn't necessarily mean the anguish and confusion you speak of.
Sherlock Holmes wrote: Wed Dec 29, 2021 11:14 am What exactly are humans expected to do? it is far from clear (as is evidenced by the many doctrinal arguments over the past twenty centuries).
Per Gen 1 I'd suggest something along the lines of filling the earth with life and subduing it. Or per Gen 2, to "work and till" the garden. So from both of those references I would think of our role as something akin to a gardener. Creating the conditions for life. Creating a harmony of life. Making sure life of every kind can flourish. That kind of thing.
Why? why are people expected to do that? what is the purpose of doing that? This is what I'm driving at, it makes no sense to me.
When one has eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.

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Re: Making sense of the NT

Post #5

Post by 1213 »

Sherlock Holmes wrote: Wed Dec 29, 2021 11:14 am ..
What exactly are humans expected to do? ...
Hello,
I think it is very clear. Humans are expected to love each other, because:

Owe no one anything, except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law.
Romans 13:8

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Re: Making sense of the NT

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Post by TRANSPONDER »

But loving your neighbour is WORKS, not righteousness, which is loving God. Romans says that, too. Unbelievers and atheists can work out that it is to the benefit of all humans to love each other (which too many Christians do not do because they see some as offending against Dogma). Atheists can do a better hob of loving.

No that's not what God wants from Humans according to the NT. Try again.

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Re: Making sense of the NT

Post #7

Post by Sherlock Holmes »

1213 wrote: Wed Dec 29, 2021 2:04 pm
Sherlock Holmes wrote: Wed Dec 29, 2021 11:14 am ..
What exactly are humans expected to do? ...
Hello,
I think it is very clear. Humans are expected to love each other, because:

Owe no one anything, except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law.
Romans 13:8
Well unfortunately this really doesn't help (me) at all.

Is taking the life of a neighbor who asks one to (perhaps they are terminally ill and in pain) an example of showing them love?

What if loving one neighbor negatively impacts another neighbor?
When one has eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.

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Re: Making sense of the NT

Post #8

Post by Purple Knight »

1213 wrote: Wed Dec 29, 2021 2:04 pmI think it is very clear. Humans are expected to love each other, because:

Owe no one anything, except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law.
Romans 13:8
If we're logically charitable to this it's basically just the Golden Rule. If you care about someone you give them the respect and kindness you give yourself, because a harm to them is like a harm to you.

If you love everybody equally you can derive basic morals. I can even go and kill that murderer or better, remove him from society, because even though I care for him, I also care for myself and anybody else he might kill.

This doesn't even fail at the doctor's dilemma: Shall he slaughter one healthy person to save five sick ones? If we care about people we don't want them to live in a world where doctors randomly slaughter them.

And there will always be some greedy fool trying to juke the rule, and he will say, oh, but I do love that other fellow, I just do this to him anyway. Language isn't perfect so we can't use it to write a perfect rule that cannot be exploited and loopholed. But c'mon, we all know one of these when we see them.

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Re: Making sense of the NT

Post #9

Post by theophile »

Sherlock Holmes wrote: Wed Dec 29, 2021 12:41 pm
theophile wrote: Wed Dec 29, 2021 12:11 pm
Sherlock Holmes wrote: Wed Dec 29, 2021 11:14 am Yet it makes no sense at the end of the day, for example why go to all this trouble? the entire human race is in a state of anguish, confusion and beginning to collapse, why is that logically necessary as part of creation?
Who said that all this mess is logically necessary? I don't recall any such mention of that in the Gen 1 creation narrative. Debatable if that's what Gen 2-3 conveys.

That said, I do think there are variable elements and a chaotic potential in creation. But that doesn't necessarily mean the anguish and confusion you speak of.
Sherlock Holmes wrote: Wed Dec 29, 2021 11:14 am What exactly are humans expected to do? it is far from clear (as is evidenced by the many doctrinal arguments over the past twenty centuries).
Per Gen 1 I'd suggest something along the lines of filling the earth with life and subduing it. Or per Gen 2, to "work and till" the garden. So from both of those references I would think of our role as something akin to a gardener. Creating the conditions for life. Creating a harmony of life. Making sure life of every kind can flourish. That kind of thing.
Why? why are people expected to do that? what is the purpose of doing that? This is what I'm driving at, it makes no sense to me.
What doesn't make sense about a world filled with life? Do you prefer the direction we're going, i.e., a world of empty oceans and barren landscapes? (Would you rather the desolation of Mars to the fecundity of the rain forests and coral reefs of Earth?)

But look, we are all free to choose our core values. Wealth. Power. Knowledge... In the bible that core value is life in all of its myriad expressions.

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Re: Making sense of the NT

Post #10

Post by Tcg »

Sherlock Holmes wrote: Wed Dec 29, 2021 11:14 am
However - and I know I'm not alone here - Christianity itself, the New Testament, remarkable and thought provoking as it is, and not questioning the legitimacy of the texts we have access to, I am ultimately deeply puzzled by it all.
You don't state what it is about the N.T. that you find puzzling so it hard to address your O.P. in specifics.

If one accepts the idea that God is in some way responsible for the N.T., I think it will remain puzzling. In spite of what some claim, it does not present a unified message. Not even about what it takes to attain heaven.

If, however, one accepts the N.T. as a product of humans, the endeavor becomes clearer. One need not wonder why the story doesn't really add up and can begin to see it as simply a small section of human's ever evolving views on God and religious thought. It remains a challenging study, but at least now one stands a chance of comprehending it.


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