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Let's pretend Jesus is real
In this thread we will discuss the historical Yeshua aka Jesus, assuming for the sake of debate that he actually existed. For this purpose we will be addressing the actual man as he would have existed, in what context and under what constructions of that society, in order to support my original point that religion exists to keep the ruling classes in power and control the vast majority of the populace through threat and vague promise.

For the sake of distinction I will refer to this man as Yeshua, which is the name most historians actually ascribe to him. Participants may call him what they wish, I think we all know who we are talking about.

In defense of a historical Christ, as opposed to the hysterical white hippie we know today, I offer the brief mentions of both Tacitus and Josephus, non Christian contemporary figures who referred to a leader of a problematic cult who was killed by the Romans and who was called "the Christ."

These external references serve to validate that at some point closely corresponding with Biblical reference, a minor prophet/rabbi rose to prominence, led a select group of zealots who named themselves "christians", and was ultimately killed for reasons we will discuss later.
Thank god I am oblivious to the opinions of others while caught in the blinding splendor of my own cleverness.
Luke 18:9-14

“And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican.

The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.

And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.

I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.”
You couldn't get a clue during the clue mating season in a field full of horny clues if you smeared your body with clue musk and did the clue mating dance.
Dono, I appreciate you starting a thread to discuss this.

I’ve mentioned I’m no theologian and have only my own experiences to go on.

I wouldn’t try to push my beliefs on anyone, and if a person truly believes that there is no God and ‘religion’ is a bunch of malarkey, then so be it.

And, you and I can disagree about the fuller life aspect as well.

If living as Christ would want us to (serving the needy, helping the less fortunate, etc) is somehow a bad thing, then I’m a little confused.

Those that are self-serving and not putting others first cannot be leaving this world a better place than when they got here.

I think I might be self serving.
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Pass a slice over here.

hah Good one!
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In the discussion of religion as an opiate designed to control large numbers of people, we must examine the historic context of ancient religions which form the basis for what we now call modern worship. The earliest religions were multi-deity affairs, where different Gods controlled all aspects of daily life, each demanding sacrifice and obedience at all times. Egyptian, Nordic, Indian Subcontinent, the Americas, even the ancient Greek and Roman societies followed the same basic heirarchy of god-families as rulers, with specially ordained human representatives having "elite" access to divine wisdom. Not coincidentally, these shamans/priests/Caesars/holy men were revered as powerful leaders, with tremendous influence over their fellows and all the benefits of leadership.

The hierarchy of Jeshua's time was no different. The Roman God's representative was Caesar. Thru him Rome ruled its Empire by "divine right" including the subjugated middle eastern lands. In those lands, the Jews were a marginalized, monotheistic subset with the wild notion that there was only one God in charge, and that he assigned his Rabbis to conduct all sorts of business transactions and dictate laws for the Hebrew people. Again, a very elite few with near limitless power in their own little sect. At the bottom of this religious caste system, Jeshua and his motley followers espoused an even more heretical idea: that ALL men had the same ability to talk directly to YHWH (god) and that each man in turn was the son of god. This not only stripped the clerics of their elite status, it also called Caesar's divine status into questions.

So in the context of the day, Yeshua was a bottom tier member of a subset of a subset of a subset of Roman society. Literally the bottom of the barrel. His ideas would have appealed to others of no status and would have seriously irritated those in power.
Thank god I am oblivious to the opinions of others while caught in the blinding splendor of my own cleverness.
Religion is the opium of the people.................and the curse of government.
You couldn't get a clue during the clue mating season in a field full of horny clues if you smeared your body with clue musk and did the clue mating dance.
So we have a carefully crafted religious based society designed to keep a few in power and the rest subservient. And this lowly Rabbi starts making crazy assertions that all men are equal under God. Traditional narrative states the Jewish leaders were upset Yeshua counted himself equal to God, but in fact he was stating he, and his compatriots, were equal to the Jewish leaders. This is important for very material reasons we will discuss.

Jesus never called himself the son of God, but rather the Son of Man. And while some versions of the historical Yeshua present him as a calculated self promoter who deliberately set out to fulfill parts of an old prophecy about the descendents of David, many others believe the divinity of Jesus was a post-mortem construct of Paul, a late convert who seized power in the fledgling church after Jeshua's execution and solidified his claim using, among other things, a claim to divine right. More on him later.
Thank god I am oblivious to the opinions of others while caught in the blinding splendor of my own cleverness.
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In this country, organized religion is the opium of older people, way moreso than younger people.

For me, that's not at all a bad thing. It doesn't mean the younger generation is less moral. It doesn't mean the younger generation is less spiritual. It doesn't mean the younger generation is atheistic by default.

It means that the younger generation, for many reasons, is less inclined to be manipulated/controlled/defined by organizations and governments that use religion to maintain their own power and riches over the masses (including in the U.S.A.). In my opinion.

I don't have anything against sincerely religious people. I've seen religion do good for individuals and for society, when exercised with pure motives. I've posted as much several times over the years in the "Religious Arguing Here" thread.

However, I have zero hesitance to speak fact and truth to Christians (and judgmental devotees of other religions) who constantly preach upon and look down on people who don't subscribe to THEIR religious beliefs.

Those judgmental preachy peeps often attempt to dictate what others are allowed to say and do (despite the fact that they're often the biggest 'sinners' and hypocrites of all).

They're the same "true believers" who label those who don't subscribe to THEIR beliefs as as "smug" or "too smart for their own good", or "immoral atheists". Silly self-righteous bullshit.

I've encountered many self professed Christian Conservatives over the years and the one thing they all have in common is that they are some of the crappiest, self serving, judgemental pieces of shit that have ever been my misfortune to encounter. Most of them are not loving, caring, selfless individuals, they just aren't. I don't like them, I don't trust them and I would never lift a finger to help them. They suck! Their God isn't my God.
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My belief is that Jesus was a mortal man just like the men who wrote the collection of stories in the bible. They weren't God's prophets who he spoke to though the clouds. And at what point did God stop talking to mankind anyway, after he got all his books written and several different religions formed from it? If the bible was God's holy word it wouldn't be full of inconsistencies, contradictions and just overall absurd. It's the kind of book that would be expected to be written by primitive humans in an effort to explain things they don't have answers to. And a tool to control and manipulate large numbers of people like Donovan said.
(03-10-2018, 01:22 PM)sally Wrote: And at what point did God stop talking to mankind anyway

According to some people, and there are a lot of them, God speaks to them on the regular. Speaking only for myself, it's one thing if I talk to God but if I think he's talking back at me, that's something else altogether.
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Yeah, today when people claim God talks to them we call them fucking crazy. But 3000 years ago it was for realz.
What's fucking crazy to me is the fact that religious organizations don't pay a dime in taxes.

The government allows them to maintain tax-free status even though the larger religious organizations rake in tons of money from their followers; it's big business.

Plus, religious organizations are exempt from sales taxes on their purchases. They're exempt from property taxes. They're exempt from capital gains tax when they sell off assets.

Priests, ministers, rabbis and the like get "parsonage exemptions" in the U.S. too. That means that they're able to deduct mortgage payments, rent and other living expenses when they're doing their income taxes. They also are the only group allowed to opt out of Social Security taxes.

So, they take in billions of dollars a year and aren't required to contribute a piece of it to provide for the whole of society like other businesses and individuals.

I've always believed religious businesses should be subject to the same taxes as other businesses. But, some politicians and administrations benefit immensely from religions that help control people's thoughts and behavior. Religious organizations also deliver large voter blocks to those politicians and administrations who court them. So, unfortunately, I don't think U.S. religions will lose their tax-exempt status anytime soon, if ever.
We're not talking small potatoes in terms of waived tax revenue either. The low end estimate is a whopping $71 billion per year.

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If Trump taxed the business of religion in this just one year, he'd have enough funding to build that great big beautiful wall he promised Mexico would pay for.

Plus, he'd likely have some money left over to hire a team of stable geniuses to brainstorm means by which to keep Muslims out, keep needy refugees from coming here, and keep people from 'shithole' countries from entering the U.S. to pursue a better life.

Sure, those isolationist/supremacist actions would fly in the face of Jesus's message of 'serving the needy' and 'helping the less fortunate' .....but that sort of self-serving hypocrisy by people who claim to 'love the bible/God more than anyone on the planet!' and their fully indoctrinated devotees would be nothing new.
The "divine right" of the ruling classes rankled the man Jeshua was, and it shows in all his acts and teachings, especially those that weren't doctored by later authors to add the "son of god" stuff. Jeshua did not consider himself anything but a champion of his oppressed Jewish people. The Hebrews had turned religion into something of a cash cow, where money lenders would sit in the vestibule of temple and offer cleansing of sin, for a price. Therefore, the rich and well-off could be absolved of all manner of transgression, while the poor were made to suffer some of the more draconian punishments of the day. This was important, because often the punishments involved death, disfigurement, enslavement or other harsh penalty. Church leaders could also simply proclaim someone as dead, regardless of their physical state, and in doing so order all the people to ignore and shun that person as if they were in fact dead
No one dared ignore this order, and it often led to actual death for the person being shunned. If no one is allowed to feed, shelter, or otherwise interact with one declared dead, then in a harsh society like those times it literally was a death sentence.
(There is a school of thought that this may have been the condition of Lazarus, Jeshua's friend who he supposedly raised from death by telling him to get up and go home. This would have been a serious breach by Jeshua against the ruling class, something he reveled in).
Jeshua was a political activist, champion for the poor, and reserved a special hate for rich and powerful rulers. He espoused helping the weak and needy, feeding the sick, and all the things we pretend we do in his name today: but he also vilified the rich and greedy in sermon after sermon, he physically attacked the moneychangers, and swore that it was nearly impossible for rich people to get into heaven. In fact, so harsh was his anti-wealthy rhetoric that the later church had to alter some of the sermons when they became quite wealthy, softening his preaching by saying rich folk could be "poor in spirit" and still be headed for Heaven. Considering that "blessed" actually meant "wealthy" to the ancient Jews, Jeshua's assertion that the Poor and meek were the ones blessed means something entirely new. Add to that his comments about it being easier for a rich man to ride a camel through the eye of a needle than to get into heaven an, and you see where Jeshua was coming from.
He was a communist. A peasant and dangerous who sought to shake up the status quo by saying, If every man is equal under go we do not need these ruling class "go-betweens".
Something that also did not sit well with the Hebrew leaders and Rome. Again, control of the populace is incredibly important when you rule by force and they outnumber you. The slightest insurrection by the smallest sect, (Jeshua's movement was maybe 120 or so people at the time of his death) was squashed decisively. Before it could grow.
Thank god I am oblivious to the opinions of others while caught in the blinding splendor of my own cleverness.
Ps none of these posts are copypasta. For an agnostic with atheistic leanings and very little structural religion in my formative years, I have fucked around and done tremendous research on theological history over the years. The subject of religious evolution fascinates me.

So....not opinions. Theories and strong probabilities supported by data.
Thank god I am oblivious to the opinions of others while caught in the blinding splendor of my own cleverness.
It fascinates me too and pisses me off at the same time that people can be so incredibly fucking stupid. I mostly keep it to myself, but I feel ok saying it here.

I've never become annoyed with anyone over their faith. I've never cared if people believed or not. I wish I could carry that over to other things, things that annoy me and make me have snarky thoughts & a smart mouth. Everyone should be able to have their beliefs without encountering push back from those who don't agree. I include myself in that.
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