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Atheism in Greece

August 9 2008 at 9:19 AM
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Feral Tribune  (Login JasamBozo)

 
Dear Greek friends,

I am a Croatian atheist.
I have a question to you all. Is it possible to declare oneself as an atheist in contemporary Greece ?

What do you think about this chapter from Hitchens's ""GOD IS NOT GREAT"" ?

1 st part:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3xLPHRTI06I&feature=related

2nd part:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3xLPHRTI06I&feature=related

What do you think about it ?

Has this world bestseller been translated into Greek ?

Regards,
Feral Tribune

 
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Panos
(Login panos01)

Re: Atheism in Greece

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August 9 2008, 1:07 PM 

I suspect that a decent minority of Greeks do not believe in god, or orthodoxy for that matter. Yet appear as orthodox, as it is perceived as integral to being a member of the Greek culture and community.

I myself am an Atheist and do not goto church, nor express any respect for the orthodox church - or any church for that matter. Whilst I find some ceremonies interesting, the overall beliefs of the religion I do not accept as anything but mere superstition.

To answer your question, I think my brand of Atheism would not be received well in Greece whereas the first form of soft-Atheism, that is disbelief whilst remaining 'orthodox', would go down fine.

 
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Feral Tribune
(Login JasamBozo)

Place of religion in 21 century

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August 9 2008, 1:22 PM 

Dear Greek friend,

Thank you for your very honest response. I face the same reaction from my fellow countrymen.
I gather you are a cultural "Orthodox" as I am a cultural "Catholic". (I also respect Christmas/Easter... but The Bible for me is nothing more than a piece of man-made/written literature.

Are you familiar with Hitchens's GOD IS NOT GREAT or Dawkins's GOD DELUSION for that matter?
World top sellers.
Have they been translated in Greece ?
If you have time please listen to the YOU TUBE version of ""God is not Great"" I gave in my previous post...

Secular and Balkan greetings,
Feral Tribune

 
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Kostas the Makedon
(Login KostasKariotis)

Atheism in Greece

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August 19 2008, 1:56 AM 

I would say that in Greece there is alot of admitted Agnosticism but the word ATHEIST has a bad connotation so people avoid using it or even thinking that they are that. The Greek Orthodox church has a good grip on the Greek psyche and tries to bully people around when it comes to expressing their true feelings about the church and the religion!

Yes, I have Christopher Hitchens book and have read some of it. Interestingly enough I agree with him in principle with his assertions of the role of religion throughout history!

Religions and especially the three of the main ones; that is Judaism,Christian,and Islam consider themselves as the inventors and keepers of morality.
The truth could not be further away than that assertion. Ethics and morality was thought, written and debated hundreds of years prior to Christianity and developed separately than Judaism totally devoid of religious influence. Ancient Philosophers wrote extensively about "Man's Correct Conduct" in this world!

However, I marvel at this Universe and its mechanics and laws. I am sure that inteligence and comprehension is embedded in its very atomic structure and therefore I intuitevely feel that we might not be totally left alone to our devices. There is the Natural Law and Order that it appears to be embeded in our genes that we recognize universally. I do not know what it is or where it comes from, but it is the basis of the springing forth of all religions. Couple this with our fear of death and the existence of charlatans and you have religion!


Later!


Kostas

Kostas the Macedon ("Always Guarding Thermopylai"- Kavafes).

 
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amerinako
(Login amerinako)

Re: Atheism in Greece

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August 19 2008, 2:18 AM 

expressing their true feelings about the church and the religion!

Will you please stop and just say whats on your mind, you are gay that is why you have no faith so this way you can go on living your sinning ways without fear of burning in hell. This is the problem with people like you. If you had any balls you would come out of the closet already. Hell if their is nothing wrong with it than just admit it!

 
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Panos
(Login panos01)

Re: Atheism in Greece

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August 19 2008, 2:45 AM 

I'm not culturally Orthodox, no. I find some of the traditions interesting, but I have no desire to be a part of them.
I am familiar with Hitchens' work - his books on the Parthenon Marbles and Cyprus are brilliant! ,
I am also aware of Dawkins and Sam Harris (whose book is probably my favourite).

The God Delusion is available in Greek, and has received some very interesting press. Not sure about the others though.
There are some good Greek atheist books, like the Great Lie by Michael Kalopoulos - available in English and Greek, which is much like Bart Ehrman's books which explain the history of "holy texts" and their non-divine origins.
It also dispels the nonsense that is "holy fire".

 
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amerinako
(Login amerinako)

Re: Atheism in Greece

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August 19 2008, 4:17 AM 

Well there you have it, another homosexual says God does not exsist and all the sinners praise him.

 
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Feral Tribune
(Login JasamBozo)

Greetings from BiH destroyed by religion and nationalism

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August 19 2008, 4:47 AM 

Dear Kostas,


Thank you very much for your very honest and insightful response.
I accept and respect your somewhat Einsteinian view of the Universe so elegantly manifested in its all glorious life forms (including lethal cancer cells:-).

I think Mr amerinako is a classic example of a narrow minded religious fundamentalist we have to deal with in this day and age. Welcome to the 21 century.
His avatar also tells is it all.
I am sure that he is convinced that "god" is Serbian and Serbian people are the chosen ones.
I have the same problem dealing with Croatian nationalists, who claim that god (and Holy mary so called GOSPA in Medjugorje) also gave them that spiritual exclusivity (Germans claim the same : Gott Mit Uns, Americans: "God bless America" and it goes on and on......).
I am from Mostar and I have to tell you that the first thing Catholics, Orthodox and Muslim nationalists (?) did during that idiotic war in the 90's was to ......burn to the ground one-another's churches/mosques . They got their priorities right....Of course in front of the cameras they would say that their faith is a religion of PEACE and LOVE.

That bloody nationalistic/religious in former Yugoslavia war was the best lesson about life I have ever got.....but I do not wish it to anybody....

Secular , Balkan greetings,
Feral Tribune


 
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amerinako
(Login amerinako)

Re: Atheism in Greece

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August 19 2008, 5:36 AM 

Listen nazi before you try to butter up to the Greeks remind them that YOUR people tried to kill them along with the Germans,Italians,Albanians and Bulgarians.
Now as for me thinking God is Serbien, no he was born to a Jewish woman making him a Jew. Do I believe ORTHODOX people are the new chosen ones YES.

Yes welcome to the 21st century where they show homosexual values on tv for our children to learn, where drugs are everywhere and kids are more vulnarable then ever. Also the 21st century where YOUR beloved Jugoslavija was torn apart by the hands of Your old friends the bastard Germans.

Who burned churches??? Do you even know how many ancient Monastaries the Serbiens lost in Kosovo to the hands of muslims?

Let me remind you way back even in the 1980's when some one was from Croatia and you asked them where they were from they would say Croatia not Jugoslavija, like they should have. Those bastards always counted themselves as Croations first and never Jugoslavijans, so to hell with them and you hrvatski ustac! Croation living in Mostar among muslims how fitting. Do us all a favor and hang yourslef from the bridge!

 
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amerinako
(Login amerinako)

Re: Atheism in Greece

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August 19 2008, 5:39 AM 

They got their priorities right....Of course in front of the cameras they would say that their faith is a religion of PEACE and LOVE.

Let me remind you that the Orthodox have never ever tried to forcefully convert ANYONE unlike Catholics and Muslims! All we do and ever did is try to protect what is right, our Orthodoxy.

 
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Feral Tribune
(Login JasamBozo)

Amerinako, welcome to the Middle ages

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August 19 2008, 7:18 AM 

Dear Panos,

Thank you for your cultured and honest explenation reg atheism in 21 century Greece...

Now, look at our Balkan friend Mr Amerinako - a person chosen by "god" whoever he [she is for him)... I cannot read his sickening, primitive, nationalistic ultra-fundamentalist religious verbal diarrhea any more. So much for religious/christian values : hatred, violence, cult of death, vengeful attacks total lack of reason and common sense and finally last but not least a typical exhibition of pathological Balkan victimology (everybody in former YU claims to be an INNOCENT victim of their neighbours' aggression - contrary to the findings of the Hague Tribunal).

You can find heaps of interesting stuff on You tube or www.richarddawkins.com.
I recommend his fantastic debates ( as well as Hitchens's). They both possess that amazing ability of intellectually dismantling the religious myths and their narrow-minded protagonists.
I find Sam Harris very soothing but not aggressive enough....he is probably more suitable for the politically correct American audience.


Secular, Balkan greetings,
Feral Tribune

 
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Panos
(Login panos01)

Re: Atheism in Greece

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August 19 2008, 3:20 PM 

Sam Harris I wouldn't call politically correct personally, but he does seem to be less aggressive than Dawkins and particularly Hitchens.
Harris interests me because currently he is looking at religion from a neurological stand-point, as in why some people have to believe and the circumstances of their; education, IQ, wealth, nationality etc which show correlation to belief.

He also addresses some points that other non-believers neglect. One of these points is how rational non-believers in Astrology do not need the name non-astrologer. Why then do rational non-believers in religious dogmatic mythology need the name Atheist?
I agree with this point and tend to avoid giving myself the name atheist, but rather offer rationalist if pushed for a title.
This is an interesting question Dawkins and Hitchens seem to ignore.

I do however enjoy Hitchens live, I saw him on Fox News regarding the death of a shout-n-holla evangelist and Hitchens said "if you gave him an enema, you could bury him in a match-box" this was not even 24 hours after his death. Whilst I see a need for fundamentalist faith-heads to be challenged and confronted. I also see a need for someone like Harris to try and persuade the moderates. Letter to a Christian Nation was a great book and it raises many valid points that believers could honestly not answer without concluding that their faith is equally as invalid as all the others.

Hitchens though has a way to anger people who I do not like, such as fundamentalist faith heads. So I always enjoy seeing a good Hitchens debate/interview.
Some catholic leader in America got angry at Hitchens and threatened to fight him outside in the car park after he wrote his book on Teresa.

I could not pick a favourite atheist figurehead, but as to which book I like most I lean toward End of Faith as I feel it covers a good number of topics and focuses on the ones that will persuade believers. Whilst the others do this, just not quite as eloquently.

I cannot recall who said this, but a Greek philosopher noticed how Greek gods looked Greek, Ethiopian gods looked as such and he then said, If horses made gods they would resemble horses.
Over 2000 years ago people noticed how each religion looks invented by people to suit their needs, yet in the 21st century people are honestly deluding themselves- ignoring the obvious non-divine origins of islam, christianity or judaism.

 
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Feral Tribune
(Login JasamBozo)

Truth can be painful

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August 20 2008, 12:57 PM 

Hi Panos,
Congrats on a very well written and very insightful post.
I also enjoy debates in which Hitch, Rich and Sam intellectually shred into pieces their religious counterparts. Panos , sometimes you have to whack a religious fanatic with a sledge hammer in the head to bring him/her back to earth.
I find theologists very repetitive and nauseating. Their arguments alwys lead to a predictable dead end despite their desperate attempts to dilute luck of substance with some quasi-poetic parabolas and metaphors it just does not hold water. Poor souls choke themselves to death by their hopeless argumentative limitations. Rationalists/humanists ( I also avoid term "atheists") have a wealth of a new scientific evidence not every century but virtually every year now. The religious know they fighting the hopeless battle.
After one of the Richard's lectures I participated in (in London) one of the very intelligent Irish fellow science students burst into tears realizing that her feeble religious house of cards she grew up with was dismantled effortlessly by Dawkins just within the space of one hour. I really felt sorry for her.....

When I told my older brother that sad story he said that I cried uncontrollably for a few hours after he had told me that Santa Claus did not exist....well, I was 5 or 6...


I hope you find this embarrassing aspect of religion interesting :

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=190577128918595070


Kind regards,
Feral Tribune

PS
Mistakenly I have opened the same post under a separate thread.



 
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A Christian's Perspective
(Login smitsos)

Atheism Vs Agnosticism

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August 22 2008, 1:42 PM 

Panos

I sympathise with your views. I too for a long time was nothing more than a nominal member of Orthodoxy. I tried very hard to understand the ceremonious custom of the church. I couldn’t make heads or tales of it. Eventually I moved away regardless of what others thought, family included. I subsequently became very critical to downright cynical about religion.

The downside was that I was overcome by a heavy sense of futility. An existentialist angst. What was the whole point of life? Well might the scientist argue that such questions about ‘why’ are anchored in the human psyche and have no logical basis, but I can’t change the fact that for this existence at least I will always be a human with human thoughts and concerns.

I turned to reckless hedonism and moved from one high to another. However as memory can not transcend death even this proved a futile and empty exercise: “what of all this will I take with me?” The thrill seeking spiralled into a darker reality. Ultimately my life led to drugs and eventually organised crime, especially with Asian based syndicates ironically known as Triads (from the Trinity to Triads).

In summary this biographical account sounds a little clichéd. I’m not attempting to link atheism with poor life choices and a debauched life. As an existentialist it may be argued there is no such thing as a poor choice. Nothing is recorded against your soul as there is no soul. You simply flow along a nihilistic river until you cease to be. Consequences schonsequences.

Eventually the descent into the dark recesses of society started to take on a spiritual significance. I became aware of secret fraternity practices which were logically inexplicable. A world of spirits and physical evil. And then on the verge of an initiation I had a revelation. An apocalypse which hurled me into a new life changing paradigm. For the first time a had a clear and empirical understanding of the Devil and hell. It therefore followed that if this world was real, God must also be true.

This story has a lot more twists and turns which I won’t go into. However one point I would like to make is ‘Church’ and ‘God’ are one and the same. The church is made up of humans with all their vices and deficiencies. Compounding this further the Orthodox Church is unfortunately stuck in some time bubble of the middle ages.

The Koine (common) language in which the New Testament was written was the vulgar language of the people. In other words it was written to be understood by all, not just a select few priests and theologians who pretend to channel God's energy through incantations uttered in Hellenistic Greek.

To understand how much some things have been stylised and ceremonialised take the Eucharist for example (which simply means ‘thank you’). The initial church (see Corinthians) starts with meetings of remembrance. Christians from the Church of Corinth gather to ‘eat’ together (usually on a Saturday – the 7th day of the week - and not a Sunday - which is the first day of the week) . They eat bread (representing the body of Christ) and drink wine (the blood of Christ). The whole idea of a Eucharist is a plain meal with banquet guests praising the bounty of God (the early Christians visualised Heaven as a big banquet).

Let’s take the same practice in the modern Orthodox and Catholic churches. Every Sunday the crowned and gilded priest (a hangover from Pharisaic times) mechanically and unemotionally reads (or should I say chants) a part of the gospel and some Psalms. The wine and bread are blessed and through the mystical process of transubstantiation the Holy Spirit (the body of Christ) enters into the chalice of wine and the bread. People who have fasted for half a week cannibalise the emblems of Christ and their sins are purportedly absolved.

Nowhere in the Bible is this practice advocated. In fact Paul the Apostle is quite explicit on this point: Christ whom you have espoused as your Lord has already absolved you of sin. The whole point of Crucifixion was for a sinless God to die for you and in doing so take acquit you of judgement. So why all the shenanigans? Simple, it makes a priest appear a lot more significant than he really is and keeps him in a job.

Is God so small and finite that he requires the church's pigeon hole definitions for survival? I don't think so. God and Church are not one and the same. God can reveal Himself to anyone: in the Church or out, to Christian and non Christian alike.

Finally to call yourself an atheist is as much a leap of faith as to avow God. Scientists will say that the onus of proof rests with the Theologians. It is they that must demonstrate the existence of God. However this is more of a political standpoint (payback for medievil loftiness when the Western Church exercised absolute control of knowledge) than a logical one. Scientists can no more prove the non existence of God as theologians can prove the opposite. Agnosticism is therefore the natural refuge for most people: “show me and I’ll believe”. My advice: keep an open mind.

 
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Kostas the Makedon
(Login KostasKariotis)

Atheism in greece.

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August 26 2008, 1:45 AM 

This goes to the funny-man Ameri-ca-naco.

You've got my attention again little gnat! You still haven't given me your adress!!! You've pussied out (the women please excuse my French)again and again.

You!!!, that always has the word "gay" in you mouth, must be suffering of self-loathing. You have homosexuality constantly in your mind! (I hope the readers here go back and read some of our previous discources with Amerinaco who was trying to pass for a Greek Spartan. Now that was a lot of laughs. But the funniest of all was when I called him "butter-boy"="boutyropaido" that means mamas boy and he thought it was a homosexual slur). The little gnat is a well established comedian.

Oh by the way, before I forget Amerinaco, how did your operation for your hemorhoids go? Are you convalescing well? I would like to send you chocolate candy to make you feel better!
I would prefer that you stop un-healthy activities in general but if you don't at least use some type of a lubricant. Talk to your Doctor and he'll tell you! There is info all over the Internet!
Also, "quit using girbles" the Surgeant said. He had to remove eight out from you. What is wrong with you? Can't make an animal shelter out of your butt!

Anywho, I 've got to go now but Tyrone told me that he is waiting for you!

I hope this is Atheistic enough for you! Or Agnostic, or even Amerinostic who cares!

Toodles gnat,

Kostas





Kostas the Macedon ("Always Guarding Thermopylai"- Kavafes).

 
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Niklianos
(Login Nikilianos)
Greece Forum Mods Group

Re: Atheism in Greece

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August 26 2008, 4:23 AM 

Amerinako,

If you cannot refrain from insulting people or using derogatory terms then you will be banned for a week. After that even longer before the 3rd time which equals indefinite ban. I have been gone for a while and come back and start reading gay this and gay that, well that is uncalled for. If you cannot be civilized then we do not need you in here!

 
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amerinako
(Login amerinako)

Re: Atheism in Greece

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August 26 2008, 3:27 PM 



===========================================================

Nothing nice to add, then don't reply for the sake of it.

Stop Trolling.
===========================================================


    
This message has been edited by Arxileas on Aug 26, 2008 4:02 PM


 
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Panos
(Login panos01)

Re: Atheism in Greece

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August 29 2008, 4:08 AM 

<indent>Panos

I sympathise with your views. I too for a long time was nothing more than a nominal member of Orthodoxy. I tried very hard to understand the ceremonious custom of the church. I couldn’t make heads or tales of it. Eventually I moved away regardless of what others thought, family included. I subsequently became very critical to downright cynical about religion.

The downside was that I was overcome by a heavy sense of futility. An existentialist angst. What was the whole point of life? Well might the scientist argue that such questions about ‘why’ are anchored in the human psyche and have no logical basis, but I can’t change the fact that for this existence at least I will always be a human with human thoughts and concerns.</indent>

I have no such angst with existentialism, a secular meaning of life to me is far greater than one whereby this life is only a test.
I might further add that hedonism, drugs and recklessness are not a function of disbelief.


I turned to reckless hedonism and moved from one high to another. However as memory can not transcend death even this proved a futile and empty exercise: “what of all this will I take with me?” The thrill seeking spiralled into a darker reality. Ultimately my life led to drugs and eventually organised crime, especially with Asian based syndicates ironically known as Triads (from the Trinity to Triads).

In summary this biographical account sounds a little clichéd. I’m not attempting to link atheism with poor life choices and a debauched life. As an existentialist it may be argued there is no such thing as a poor choice. Nothing is recorded against your soul as there is no soul. You simply flow along a nihilistic river until you cease to be. Consequences schonsequences.

Eventually the descent into the dark recesses of society started to take on a spiritual significance. I became aware of secret fraternity practices which were logically inexplicable. A world of spirits and physical evil. And then on the verge of an initiation I had a revelation. An apocalypse which hurled me into a new life changing paradigm. For the first time a had a clear and empirical understanding of the Devil and hell. It therefore followed that if this world was real, God must also be true.

This story has a lot more twists and turns which I won’t go into. However one point I would like to make is ‘Church’ and ‘God’ are one and the same. The church is made up of humans with all their vices and deficiencies. Compounding this further the Orthodox Church is unfortunately stuck in some time bubble of the middle ages.

The Koine (common) language in which the New Testament was written was the vulgar language of the people. In other words it was written to be understood by all, not just a select few priests and theologians who pretend to channel God's energy through incantations uttered in Hellenistic Greek.

To understand how much some things have been stylised and ceremonialised take the Eucharist for example (which simply means ‘thank you’). The initial church (see Corinthians) starts with meetings of remembrance. Christians from the Church of Corinth gather to ‘eat’ together (usually on a Saturday – the 7th day of the week - and not a Sunday - which is the first day of the week) . They eat bread (representing the body of Christ) and drink wine (the blood of Christ). The whole idea of a Eucharist is a plain meal with banquet guests praising the bounty of God (the early Christians visualised Heaven as a big banquet).

Let’s take the same practice in the modern Orthodox and Catholic churches. Every Sunday the crowned and gilded priest (a hangover from Pharisaic times) mechanically and unemotionally reads (or should I say chants) a part of the gospel and some Psalms. The wine and bread are blessed and through the mystical process of transubstantiation the Holy Spirit (the body of Christ) enters into the chalice of wine and the bread. People who have fasted for half a week cannibalise the emblems of Christ and their sins are purportedly absolved.

Nowhere in the Bible is this practice advocated. In fact Paul the Apostle is quite explicit on this point: Christ whom you have espoused as your Lord has already absolved you of sin. The whole point of Crucifixion was for a sinless God to die for you and in doing so take acquit you of judgement. So why all the shenanigans? Simple, it makes a priest appear a lot more significant than he really is and keeps him in a job.

Is God so small and finite that he requires the church's pigeon hole definitions for survival? I don't think so. God and Church are not one and the same. God can reveal Himself to anyone: in the Church or out, to Christian and non Christian alike.

Finally to call yourself an atheist is as much a leap of faith as to avow God. Scientists will say that the onus of proof rests with the Theologians. It is they that must demonstrate the existence of God. However this is more of a political standpoint (payback for medievil loftiness when the Western Church exercised absolute control of knowledge) than a logical one. Scientists can no more prove the non existence of God as theologians can prove the opposite. Agnosticism is therefore the natural refuge for most people: “show me and I’ll believe”. My advice: keep an open mind.

 
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Panos
(Login panos01)

Re: Atheism in Greece

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August 29 2008, 4:28 AM 

Panos

I sympathise with your views. I too for a long time was nothing more than a nominal member of Orthodoxy. I tried very hard to understand the ceremonious custom of the church. I couldn’t make heads or tales of it. Eventually I moved away regardless of what others thought, family included. I subsequently became very critical to downright cynical about religion.

The downside was that I was overcome by a heavy sense of futility. An existentialist angst. What was the whole point of life? Well might the scientist argue that such questions about ‘why’ are anchored in the human psyche and have no logical basis, but I can’t change the fact that for this existence at least I will always be a human with human thoughts and concerns.

I turned to reckless hedonism and moved from one high to another. However as memory can not transcend death even this proved a futile and empty exercise: “what of all this will I take with me?” The thrill seeking spiralled into a darker reality. Ultimately my life led to drugs and eventually organised crime, especially with Asian based syndicates ironically known as Triads (from the Trinity to Triads).


I have no such angst with existentialism, a secular meaning of life to me is far greater than one whereby this life is only a test.
I might further add that hedonism, drugs and recklessness are not a function of disbelief.

Also, the fact your belief improved your life is absolutely no evidence of anything greater out there.

In summary this biographical account sounds a little clichéd. I’m not attempting to link atheism with poor life choices and a debauched life. As an existentialist it may be argued there is no such thing as a poor choice. Nothing is recorded against your soul as there is no soul. You simply flow along a nihilistic river until you cease to be. Consequences schonsequences.

Eventually the descent into the dark recesses of society started to take on a spiritual significance. I became aware of secret fraternity practices which were logically inexplicable. A world of spirits and physical evil. And then on the verge of an initiation I had a revelation. An apocalypse which hurled me into a new life changing paradigm. For the first time a had a clear and empirical understanding of the Devil and hell. It therefore followed that if this world was real, God must also be true.


You did not have an empirical understanding of the devil and hell, no one does.
What you are telling me is that you know the christian version of hell is correct. You cannot possibly know that! It is a hypothesis, and a bad one at that.

This story has a lot more twists and turns which I won’t go into. However one point I would like to make is ‘Church’ and ‘God’ are one and the same. The church is made up of humans with all their vices and deficiencies. Compounding this further the Orthodox Church is unfortunately stuck in some time bubble of the middle ages.

The Koine (common) language in which the New Testament was written was the vulgar language of the people. In other words it was written to be understood by all, not just a select few priests and theologians who pretend to channel God's energy through incantations uttered in Hellenistic Greek.


In most christian societies, the bible could not be understood by anyone except a few priests. How can it be for the people if it wasn't until much later that it was translated into native tongue?
Further more how can the bible be true when it is clear that uneducated men decided which 'scriptures' would go in the bible and which would not.
Not to mention the Gnostic scriptures, the book of Judas and the fact the new testament borrows greatly from Greek mythology.

Also I might add, nothing you have said goes to prove or even suggest there is any truth in christianity, just that it is 'useful'.

Usefulness and truth do not overlap.

To understand how much some things have been stylised and ceremonialised take the Eucharist for example (which simply means ‘thank you’). The initial church (see Corinthians) starts with meetings of remembrance. Christians from the Church of Corinth gather to ‘eat’ together (usually on a Saturday – the 7th day of the week - and not a Sunday - which is the first day of the week) . They eat bread (representing the body of Christ) and drink wine (the blood of Christ). The whole idea of a Eucharist is a plain meal with banquet guests praising the bounty of God (the early Christians visualised Heaven as a big banquet).

Let’s take the same practice in the modern Orthodox and Catholic churches. Every Sunday the crowned and gilded priest (a hangover from Pharisaic times) mechanically and unemotionally reads (or should I say chants) a part of the gospel and some Psalms. The wine and bread are blessed and through the mystical process of transubstantiation the Holy Spirit (the body of Christ) enters into the chalice of wine and the bread. People who have fasted for half a week cannibalise the emblems of Christ and their sins are purportedly absolved.

Nowhere in the Bible is this practice advocated. In fact Paul the Apostle is quite explicit on this point: Christ whom you have espoused as your Lord has already absolved you of sin. The whole point of Crucifixion was for a sinless God to die for you and in doing so take acquit you of judgement. So why all the shenanigans? Simple, it makes a priest appear a lot more significant than he really is and keeps him in a job.

Is God so small and finite that he requires the church's pigeon hole definitions for survival? I don't think so. God and Church are not one and the same. God can reveal Himself to anyone: in the Church or out, to Christian and non Christian alike.

Finally to call yourself an atheist is as much a leap of faith as to avow God. Scientists will say that the onus of proof rests with the Theologians. It is they that must demonstrate the existence of God. However this is more of a political standpoint (payback for medievil loftiness when the Western Church exercised absolute control of knowledge) than a logical one. Scientists can no more prove the non existence of God as theologians can prove the opposite. Agnosticism is therefore the natural refuge for most people: “show me and I’ll believe”. My advice: keep an open mind.


I disagree, saying you know that christianity is right takes a far greater leap of faith than saying god does not exist.
For example, how can you know that transubstantiation is nothing more than a myth, which I dare say it is.
You cannot know the holy spirit exists; yet alone enters anything, wafers included.

I am in practice agnostic, in that I believe there could be a higher power out there.
The christian interpretation of it though is most likely wrong and the god that is out there is not a personal one, therefore my belief in or disbelief in such an entity is irrelevant - as my 'soul' will not be judged by my belief, so why live my life under the assumption that any god exists when it is apparent that belief is not required for anything?

I might also add that the arguments from believers just uses language and poetry, like transubstantiation etc, if you dig deep there is no real content.

You still have all your work ahead of you in proving how you know the bible can be trusted, how you know what the creator of the universe thinks and how you know your religion is the right one in a market place of thousands of other religions all making contradicting and equally ridiculous claims about metaphysics.

 
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Carla Del Ponte
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Albania Forum Mods Group

nationalism+religion+economical inequality=war

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September 20 2008, 1:48 AM 


Dear Guests,

I found this thread very interesting. What a fascinating and intellectually engaging debate.

I highly recommend Sam Harris's bestseller THE END OF FAITH (2005).
That book had a profound effect on me and corroborated everything I had encountered during my humanitarian work all over the world (including the bloody Balkan conflict in the 90's for which religious leaders (Orthodox, Muslim and Catholic) have a lot to answer for. (I am not going to let the former Yugoslav communists off the hook either. They overnight became fierce nationalists setting the Balkans on fire).

I have been always intrigued by the strong solidarity between Greek and Serbian Orthodox Churches yet The Greek Orthodox Church shows very little understanding towards their Orthodox brethren in the FYR of Macedonia (whose etno-political identity was always supported by Serbs).

Can anybody explain to me this somewhat bizarre (for the outsiders like myself) situation ?


Cheers,
Carla

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