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This is a question I'm going to Hell...

...because I said the Lord's Prayer backwards at a funeral to summon up the Goat of Mendes, Freddie Woo tells us. Tell us why you're doomed.

Thanks to Kaol for the suggestion

(, Thu 11 Dec 2008, 13:09)
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Why Richard and I are going to Hell
Well, one of the reasons.

For a couple of years at the end of the last millennium, I lived with a guy called Richard. Like me, he was a PhD student; his field was classics. In particular, his research was on a Jewish neo-Platonist philosopher called Philo.

Now, Philo was apparently an important character in the formation of the early Church. And Richard was a brilliant linguist. He was fluent in Greek, good at Latin, and had a smattering of Biblical Hebrew. As such, he had on his shelves copies of the Hebrew, Greek, Vulgate and King James Bibles. None of this meant that Richard was a believer - far from it. He was just interested in Philo.

On occasion, we would get visited by the God squad. Instead of telling them to sod off, Richard would invite them in for a discussion. During the course of this discussion, he would produce his four versions of the Bible. And then he would get all philological.

That is to say, he'd talk about the mistranslations, subtle shifts in meaning, and other accrued errors that have appeared in the Bible over the years. He'd also talk about Gnosticism, the Aryan heresy, the Dead Sea Scrolls and so on.

In great detail.

For a long time.

He wouldn't let them leave.

The abject terror on their faces as he got into his stride was wonderful to see.

A couple of years later, I had also got around to reading the King James version, the Apocrypha, and some of the Pseudepigrapha - the books of the Bible that weren't included in the version we have. Inspired by Richard, I made careful annotations and cross-references as I went along, and made sure that I had my Greek and Latin dictionaries nearby.

I'd also read - and taught on - Hume's Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion in the interim. Plus, I had my brain switched on as a matter of course.

When the JWs next knocked on my door, I was prepared.

The difference between Richard and me is that I didn't invite them in. I kept them on my doorstep for well over an hour.

It was cold.

And that is why Richard and I are going to Hell.
(, Thu 11 Dec 2008, 15:35, 19 replies)
...and more subtle than my friend Steve who would invite the JWs in, make them tea and have a gay porn DVD running as they talked.

BTW Can you recommend a good entry level book on the Apocrypha?
(, Thu 11 Dec 2008, 15:40, closed)
Introductory books?
No idea. However, my copy of the KJ Bible is published by Oxford Classics; it includes the Apocrypha, and the editorial notes at the back are amazingly comprehensive. You could do a lot worse than that.
(, Thu 11 Dec 2008, 15:45, closed)
I like it
And having had a drunken conversation with you regarding the bullshit inherrent in all French post-structuralist theory, I well believe you know what you're on about:D
(, Thu 11 Dec 2008, 15:40, closed)
you and Richard are going to Hell because you both have too much time on your hands?
(, Thu 11 Dec 2008, 15:40, closed)
Well, if you put it like that...
(, Thu 11 Dec 2008, 15:45, closed)
Good man.
I'm glad to see that I'm not alone in fighting them on their own turf. I just wish that I had the benefit of your education and scholarly studies of that material to back up my arguments...

(, Thu 11 Dec 2008, 15:41, closed)
I dont know if all that intellectualising is necessary
I generally just tell them God drinks down my local and he likes me better than them cos I always get my round in.
(, Thu 11 Dec 2008, 15:55, closed)
I tell them
I am the maiden of the local coven.
They don't stay.
(, Thu 11 Dec 2008, 16:02, closed)
I would love to be able to run rings around JWs like that.
But to do so would require me to study theology, and the study of theology is the study of nothing.
(, Thu 11 Dec 2008, 16:10, closed)
I disagree.
Theology is an interesting study of the human mind, and how we deal with the unknown. We all have to face the void, and some deal with that by putting a more or less human face on it. Generally speaking that face is a warped reflection of their own, so when you argue with a religious person and make them defend their beliefs they get upset because you're not just arguing logic- you're arguing against them, personally. Telling them that God doesn't exist is forcing them to look at the void itself- and that makes them frightened.

Theology is a fun thing to play with, really.
(, Thu 11 Dec 2008, 16:19, closed)
Wot you talkin' about Loon?
Ha! Jokes on you, I know exactly what you're talking about
(, Thu 11 Dec 2008, 16:34, closed)
That's an interesting way of looking at it
And I think I agree: anyone who's afraid to question their beliefs is afraid that they'll find they have no real beliefs to question. As you say, many people will vent that fear outwards as anger or frustration, because they know you're telling the truth but don't want to admit it.

At the same time though, a lot of people who aren't religious presume that if someone *is* religious then they must be either mortally stupid or wilfully ignorant, and hence incapable of intelligent thought. There's a fine line between dismissing someone's beliefs and dismissing their ability to reason. I can understand why people would be riled at what is possibly the ultimate disrespect.

Of course, blowing someone up for not agreeing with you is not exactly being respectful either.

Sorry, that got a bit serious there. I promise not to do it again.
(, Thu 11 Dec 2008, 17:14, closed)
I'm always questioning my own beliefs.
And I'm always listening to the thoughts of others in case I'm wrong. I'm not arrogant enough to believe that I'm absolutely right- just that, based on what I know now, my answers are good enough for me to follow.

Atheists- the sort who lecture religious people as though they're idiots- have also taken a leap of faith, only in the opposite direction. God's existence or non-existence cannot be proven or disproven- there's only opinion. So they've assumed that God doesn't exist, and sneer at anyone who believes otherwise. They're just as zealous as the worst fundies you can find, and every bit as smug.

I can accept the beliefs of others as something that works for them. No problem at all- just as long as they don't try to force me to their view. If they begin trying to browbeat me, we're gonna tangle.

To me the entire question of the existence of God- and religion in general- is a great and entertaining thought game. There's a limit to how seriously I can take it, so I don't get heavily invested in any one view and am willing to argue from any side of it. Which often makes me unpopular with those who have strong convictions...
(, Thu 11 Dec 2008, 20:21, closed)
We;ve been here before.
Atheism isn't a leap of faith; it's a simple recognition that there's no reason at all to believe in a deity, and that there are reasons not to. It's parsimonious and in intellectually good taste.

I heard Jonathan Miller speaking a couple of weeks ago, and he was saying that he wasn't even in favour of the word "atheism", since the non-belief in a deity ought to be so much of a given that it goes unnoticed. It's a fair point...
(, Fri 12 Dec 2008, 9:35, closed)
The scientific viewpoint is one of only giving credit to a viewpoint based on evidence.

If a viewpoint goes against the evidence, or has no evidence to support it then it can be dismissed until such time as evidence is presented.

I accept the idea of 'God' as much as I accept the idea of dragons or a hollow Earth - there is no material evidence to support the theory and thus it can be safely dismissed for the present.
(, Fri 12 Dec 2008, 12:27, closed)
*grin* I had forgotten about that.
Yes, I do recall now getting into that debate with you. That was fun.

But I'm not going to re-kindle that here. I know well enough that you could out-debate me any day.
(, Fri 12 Dec 2008, 14:02, closed)
All you need
Is to quote their own material against them...JW's translate their passages and you can just easily as they do translate it to however you want to go about it. Although a good theological background would always be a bonus.
(, Thu 11 Dec 2008, 21:17, closed)
The JWs have a lovely pamphlet called "Why you can trust the Bible"
I have a copy with about 9 sides of notes on why their pamphlet has more holes in it than a sieve. I used to open the door before they'd even knocked.

Got them up to about 2 hours before, with repeat visits, though the main lady they had working for them seemed especially confused regarding her theology...she claimed Jesus was an angel. WTF.
(, Fri 12 Dec 2008, 12:23, closed)
That's when you say
"Oh do you mean the prophet Issa, peace be upon him?"
(, Mon 15 Dec 2008, 17:22, closed)

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