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 Comparison relation of Christianity and Islam to secular authorities

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PaulRyckier
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PostSubject: Comparison relation of Christianity and Islam to secular authorities   Tue May 01, 2018 8:39 am

As an offshoot from the Confucianism thread, I started from the relationship of Confucianism with the secular authorities a message to nordmann about a comparison between that relationship within Christianism and Islam.
Here the introduction:

"nordmann,

I have now seen that about Confucianism and related Chinese "philosophies" you know a lot more or have read a lot more than I ever absorbed. Therefore I will try to make a historical review of the interrelation between Christianity and the secular authorities compared with the Muslim equivalent.
Starting with Constantin the link was led between secular and religious authority? As Constantin had seen the advantage of using the Catholic church, which had already a structure based on authority because of its legimity as representants of God on earth and while the people believed that in their religion, he made the Christian religion state religion? In the Eastern Roman Empire the emperors did the same as successors of Constantin?
And Clovis (Chlodovech) converted to Christianism for the same reason? As Pepin the Short helped the Pope against the Longobards for the same reason of mutual utility?
However the relationship between worldly power(State) and church power (Pope) was always a difficult one? The Monarch always trying to escape and strengthening his power against the "Church", but the strength of the Pope was that he had believing of the religious common man behind him, and that whole community could be revolt against the Monarch. Examples were the German emperor of the HRE and his "Gang nach Canossa"? Later tried the French kings again with their "Gallicanism", but even there...?
I was on a French messageboard I think in 2006, where we discussed the "Rennaissance" and there there was a contributor, who said that he thought that it didn't came not only by the Greek thoughts brought in via Italy, the fall of Constantinople and the Muslim knowledge from the islam golden age (with the House of Wisdom), but also by Protestantism? Protestantism which put the authority of the Pope and the Church into question and undermined its position against the worldly power? Started already under the trio Henry VIII, François I and Charles V, it florished even more under Elisabeth I after the failure of the marriage of Philip II with Mary (later called Bloody Mary)? I thought about that and only later by reading more started to appreciate the thought of that contributor.

But not in my opinion in the Islam, where there is from the beginning and still is I suppose only one authority, both worldly and religious? I started to study that phenomena, but was not embedded enough in that community to understand the subtilities of all that.
On Historum we had a bit of a simular discussion and there I asked to the Muslim contributors if they could give an answer to me...and although they are always that vociferous about matters related to Islam, I had up to now not any reaction..."

Kind regards Paul.
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Meles meles
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PostSubject: Re: Comparison relation of Christianity and Islam to secular authorities   Tue May 01, 2018 9:05 am

@PaulRyckier wrote:

But not in my opinion in the Islam, where there is from the beginning and still is I suppose only one authority, both worldly and religious?

Is that really true? Up until the Protestant Reformation there was only one head of the western christian (Catholic) church - the Pope. But as I understand it, part of the difficulty of current Islamic fundamentalism, is that there is no single supreme head or authority. Almost from its beginning there was a fundamental split between Sunni and Shia moslems, but more crucially the message of God and Mohammed, as presented in the Qu'ran, are open to almost endless interpretation and debate by local ayatollahs, mullahs, imams and other clerics ... there is absolutely no single international supreme Islamic authority.
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PostSubject: Re: Comparison relation of Christianity and Islam to secular authorities   Tue May 01, 2018 9:51 am

@Meles meles wrote:
@PaulRyckier wrote:

But not in my opinion in the Islam, where there is from the beginning and still is I suppose only one authority, both worldly and religious?

Is that really true? Up until the Protestant Reformation there was only one head of the western christian (Catholic) church - the Pope. But as I understand it, part of the difficulty of current Islamic fundamentalism, is that there is no single supreme head or authority. Almost from its beginning there was a fundamental split between Sunni and Shia moslems, but more crucially the message of God and Mohammed, as presented in the Qu'ran, are open to almost endless interpretation and debate by local ayatollahs, mullahs, imams and other clerics ... there is absolutely no single international supreme Islamic authority.


Meles meles yes I know, but it is on the "local" level I thought, but too late to elaborate...see you tomorrow...and there we are again on "religion" Wink

Kind regards from Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: Comparison relation of Christianity and Islam to secular authorities   Wed May 02, 2018 9:52 am

@Meles meles wrote:
@PaulRyckier wrote:

But not in my opinion in the Islam, where there is from the beginning and still is I suppose only one authority, both worldly and religious?

Is that really true? Up until the Protestant Reformation there was only one head of the western christian (Catholic) church - the Pope. But as I understand it, part of the difficulty of current Islamic fundamentalism, is that there is no single supreme head or authority. Almost from its beginning there was a fundamental split between Sunni and Shia moslems, but more crucially the message of God and Mohammed, as presented in the Qu'ran, are open to almost endless interpretation and debate by local ayatollahs, mullahs, imams and other clerics ... there is absolutely no single international supreme Islamic authority.


Meles meles,

the whole evening searching for answers on the internet and as with the search for LiR about the Christian ("new Christians" or traditional ones?) headscarf I encountered a lot of frightening stuff. It really seems to be opening a can of worms. (in our dialect we have an expression with shit)...
And there seems to be a separation of power between the sultan and the ulema, who interpret the Koran for making laws?
And there seems still to be a kind of central ulema in Egypt: the Al Azra?

Yes you are right, there is no central authority now? But in the beginning there was one, but with the expansion of Islam there seems to be emerged several ones...four in the beginning if I recall it well..?
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Political_aspects_of_Islam
But as I understand it there is no division between religion and a secular state, as both Sultan and Ulema are obliging the same religious duties to everyone?
And if I interpret it well there is no coexistence possible with the secular socio-liberal nationstate of the West? Or the Muslim world has to adapt as the Christians did?
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islam_and_secularism


But to summarize: There seems from the beginning to have not been a separation between a secular authority and the religion in Islam?

Kind regards from Paul.
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nordmann
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PostSubject: Re: Comparison relation of Christianity and Islam to secular authorities   Wed May 02, 2018 7:08 pm

Your summary is correct - but seems to miss the point behind the organisation of any religious faith if it presumes that this is something unique to Islam. As Meles meles stated, what actually typifies the organisation of that faith and its intersection with secular authority is the fact that it has largely been left to arrive at local solutions to the challenge of how much it can insinuate itself into secular government. And in fact if one looks at the history of Christianity as an organised religion this is exactly how it has existed too. I would go further and challenge you to find any broadly organised religion for which this isn't true when looked at historically or even in contemporary terms.

There are two inescapable conclusions one can make from this tendency - religion will always seek to integrate with systems of control and authority to the furthest degree these systems allow, and from this it follows that this is the whole point of its organisation, or at least one of its most fundamental reasons to organise in the first place.

This is a rather glaringly obvious fact that, perhaps unsurprisingly, is rarely tackled theologically or tackled adequately when any theologian has ventured to address it. It is of course hardly surprising as theology is performed by the religious and in matters of broad definition when it comes to religion the person most handicapped and ineligible to draw any conclusions in this regard is, ironically enough, the person who is religious and who has invested a large degree of belief in a particular faith system. The individual who claims no allegiance to or preference for one particular faith but instead claims to believe in "religion" per se is a rare breed. In fact there are strong theological arguments produced by all religions to assert that such people are in fact not religious at all, again because the very term to the theologian implies subscription to one particular variety of the thing, normally the variety in which the theologian's own "expertise" lies. Those who try to avoid advertising their preference by retreating behind bland and general terms such as "spirituality" or even "agnosticism" are - quite understandably - dismissed within the theologies of all the world's most populous faith systems as at best misguided and at worst mendacious, or even that uniquely religious dismissal of intellect, free will and humanity - an "infidel" or "unbeliever" in the sense that this in fact is so much worse than being mendacious that the individual thus described can be legitimately reviled or even murdered for so thinking.

But yet what theologians also have to admit is that this pejorative ascription - be it mildly or vehemently applied - cannot be limited to atheists or other non-religious people. It has to extend to anyone and everyone who does not conform to the particular system with which that theologian self-identifies, and this is the same stumbling block in the way of any theologian properly, honestly and inclusively addressing the subject of the interface between religion and secularism, either as it has existed historically or how it presently manifests itself. To identify a common trend or common behaviour between religions and how they operate at that fundamental social level of the reins of power and who wields them is to admit a commonality that threatens to expose the lie of how any one common faith is the "true" faith, unique in its application and character to the extent that this singularity distinguishes it from all the other "misguided" faiths against which it competes in claims of being universally correct.

But having said all that, and as an extremely non-religious person who also likes to study history, I personally see no impediment to lumping all religions into one when analysing how they, as organised bodies, have tended to usurp and replace secular authority and controls as the opportunity has presented itself. And in fact if one concentrates on this aspect to religious behaviour alone then the commonality of strategy and purpose as expressed by all religious faiths in this regard is indeed an unavoidable conclusion and plain to see.

Note that none of the above addresses whether or not any individual religion is internally organised under a dominant central authority, or even if it prioritises its internal organisational structure over promulgation of its declared "spiritual" ethos (a difficult priority to ascertain by an onlooker as the propaganda used to advertise the latter tends to understate or even ignore the former). Some are organised in this manner and some are not, some have done this in the past but not now, some were more diffusely organised in the past but tend towards central control now. But none of these historical or contemporary traits seem to have mattered an iota when it came to the adoption of a remarkably similar strategy to insinuate the organised faith into the body politic historically, which leads one to assume that what we are actually discussing here is less a simple matter of one large organisation (the religion) being intentionally steered by a few leaders into adoption of administrative roles more logically assumed by the secular political state, and more an inescapable conclusion that the strategy itself not only rests with but is also perhaps originated by individuals within the secular body politic who - for reasons of maintaining control over others - voluntarily absorb the elements of the religious structure, manipulate these to suit their quasi-secular administrative function and purpose, and then actively promote and secure the continuation of that religious body for the same reason. It is this that has typified absolutely all historical instances of where, as your thread title implies, religions with large numbers of followers have sufficient social administrative function to be held up as valid comparisons to whatever secular equivalents are found with regard to social and political administration. The nature of this relationship varies, and has always fluctuated in terms of political effect, but this is not important. The fact that any faith system stands comparison with any secular method of political authority and can be seen to have utilised this relationship is the important bit here, and whatever nuanced differences in style and effect each organised religion may have employed is immaterial, as is their individual internal organisational structure and chain of command. What interests me from an historical and sociological perspective is in fact how incredibly similar they all have been in how they went about this integration, and especially how the symbiosis has been defined and maintained in political (and indeed military) terms once integrated. In fact I would go so far as to say that in all important aspects they have indeed been indistinguishable.
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PostSubject: Re: Comparison relation of Christianity and Islam to secular authorities   Thu May 03, 2018 8:56 am

nordmann,

thank you for this refreshing and enlightening message.

I agree with all what you said, but perhaps some nuances.

I see the parallels that you mentioned but I think that, as you said, the secular authority has as much perhaps benefited from the deal as the religious establishment...for instance the Cathar (Albigensian) crusade, very useful for the French king to break the power of the local nobility in the South of France...
I had the impression that the Greeks and Romans until the Emperors had a secular society, but weren't they too dependent of there pantheon of gods in making secular decisions...? And with the Caeasars a divination or person's cultus...? Then the real marriage between the Christian authorities and the state by Constantin? Who saw the advantages of the numerous "fidels" for his state? Later prolonged in the East-Roman Empire?
And so Clovis seems not to be the first to see the advantages of using an organized religious authority for his own purposes?

Are the nowadays "new" Christians are pitying for the loss of influence of the Church on secular authority? I think Temperance once alluded to new Christians, more fervent...but I didn't know on what...also read a thread on the French forum about a revival of the Christian faith in France too...are they starting all over again...a bit as the revival of nationalism again, saw this morning also a documentary about it starting from the Catalunia case....

But when starting with Constatin, I see from the beginning not a domination of the religion over the secular, while in Islam there was right from the beginning an amalgam of religion and secularity dominated by religion, which stayed till now, sparking the nowadays crisis among Muslim intellectuals...?

And what with Hinduism, Priscilla?
And your comments on the Orthodox churches' relation with secular authorities, Islanddawn? At least I see the advantages of the clever Putin in his rapprochement with the Russian Orthodox church...nationalism coupled with religion, what a strong mixture...see the Yugoslavian Civil War...and why not: the proxy-wars in Syria and Iraq...Erdogan in Turkey...?

And the Budhists...Birma and their Budhist identity...

PS. nordmann, I learned today a new word from you: "mendacious"
and you wrote "an iota"...why not "a iota"? as in "a useful pocket"?


Kind regards, Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: Comparison relation of Christianity and Islam to secular authorities   Thu May 03, 2018 7:09 pm

Paul wrote:
...as you said, the secular authority has as much perhaps benefited from the deal as the religious establishment...

This is the core of my point, Paul, and rather than simply a feature of how religion is integrated into secular authority I intended to make clear with this point that I believe this lies at the heart of how authority and social control itself is organised. The nuanced differences between how each large religion has been initially enrolled in that function is immaterial, as is the equally demonstrable manner in which this integration constantly changes itself anyway as time goes on in each religion's case. I distrust the simplified versions of initial integration that each authority has manufactured to explain a religion's fundamental presence in the machinery of state (such as the fairy tale regarding Constantine which explains nothing and which is even contradicted by extant documentation and records emanating from within that emperor's own administration). Instead of comparing individual religions for differences in how things happened (the theologian's stance that leads to invention) look at the common features of the process (the historian's stance that isolates actual motive and method). What emerges from such analysis is the obvious conclusion that religion plays a hugely important role in the function of authoritarian diktat when such is required by any administration for instant application to the administered population. The more authoritarian the requirement the bigger a role it has played, and whenever this effect diminishes (as when general ability to assimilate knowledge overtakes credulity, for example) then the political system wastes no time in demanding that the organised religion in question either adapts to the new realpolitik or else be ready to be swiftly replaced by a new ideological framework that does the job better. The really successful religions in terms of longevity and numbers of adherents have traditionally been those which have proved adaptable when such political demands are levelled against them.

In terms of "benefit" (a word which previous discussions here have more than indicated is so subjective as to be meaningless in terms of historical analysis) one can argue that this symbiosis is successful because it confers advantage to both parties, and that is one way of assessing benefit. But for me that is a given and so self-obvious that one is obliged to look beyond it to ascertain just what level of benefit could be said to exist at any one moment in time which might be said to be gained by society as a whole from the arrangement and then explain that benefit based on historical precedent with any degree of consistency in whatever examples one chooses. In fact when the symbiosis is looked at in action and assessed on its appearance in any given instance it is often impossible to see how anyone can be benefiting from the arrangement at all. It is when social control mechanisms are assessed in the long view and with a macrosocial perspective covering all extant societies as well as all previous ones about which we know that the true motive emerges, not just behind religions' integration into the body politic but also behind why the administered people themselves not only tolerate but even actively encourage and voluntarily engage in the levels of credulity and devotion that these ideologies demand.

PS: Iota is just a euphemism for a very little thing indeed, a very old euphemism reflecting the letter's graphically diminutive form. And in English one cannot say "a iota" because of the "norange and napple" rule.
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PostSubject: Re: Comparison relation of Christianity and Islam to secular authorities   Fri May 04, 2018 8:33 am

nordmann, first before the serious stuff

"PS: Iota is just a euphemism for a very little thing indeed, a very old euphemism reflecting the letter's graphically diminutive form. And in English one cannot say "a iota" because of the "norange and napple" rule"

And you are indeed right, it is "an iota". I hadn't expected anything else from you Wink ...
https://www.quickanddirtytips.com/education/grammar/a-versus-an
As "iota" is spoken with a "j", normally it has to be "a iota"...what is then  this famous "norange and napple rule"? I didn't find for once anything on the world wide web with the google robot...
And in Dutch we have no problem, while we always use "een": "een iota", "een jongen", "een opera", "een kerel"...

Kind regards, Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: Comparison relation of Christianity and Islam to secular authorities   Fri May 04, 2018 9:19 am

nordmann,

thank you for another thoughtprovoking message. I did some research about Buddhism and Hinduism and indeed there too you seem to be right, there is "one" parallel among them all...
And if you look to the nowadays situation as I read it, it looks frightening. as I said even from Christianity I was surprized, when I did research for LiR about "the "Christian" "veil"...frightening sites, especially from the US...as depressive as my research for the new emerging nationalisms...it is as if they want go back to the 16th (religion) and 19th century (nationalism)...

About Buddhism:
https://journals.openedition.org/chinaperspectives/408
https://www.encyclopedia.com/environment/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/politics-and-religion-politics-and-buddhism

About Hinduism:

For once one can read the Jstor article in full and has not to go via the university of a student...
https://www.jstor.org/stable/2142662?seq=12#page_scan_tab_contents
The article is a bit biased to Hinduism in my opinion and points to a role in the modern nation state?

And the frightening stuff of the so-called greatest democracy on earth...Hinduism and Nationalism...
http://www.dw.com/en/newnationalism-turn-india-into-a-hindu-state/a-40171737

And at the end we are again at the point of the modern secular nation state and its place in the world...I started already a thread about this subject...will see if I find it again...
Democracy is in my opinion not the rule of the half of the voters plus one...I joked already in the BBC time, at the choice of Butiflika after the Algerian polls...while there was a Muslim majority...
No in my opinion there has to be a broad majority to change the existing rules, for instance a two-third majority, and even with this two-thirds one has to take in consideration the aspirations of this one thirth minority because they are the same rightful citizens as the others.
Of course that is completely otherwise as the Brexit and the recent Catalunian polls...

Kind regards, Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: Comparison relation of Christianity and Islam to secular authorities   Fri May 04, 2018 7:26 pm

Well, in the same way that it is almost immaterial to distinguish between religions and how they each style themselves when trying to understand how and why they end up as integral parts of authority structures, it is equally immaterial to distinguish between the styles of these structures themselves either. All forms of governmental regime, with all the various forms of representation and internal power transference they employ, have also so frequently found it advantageous to incorporate religion as a tightly integral feature of their regime that one suspects the real reason for this also has to transcend minor considerations such as the political structure, how democratic or non-democratic they assume to be, or even the extent to which their fundamental ideology expresses itself as a secular philosophy in which one would think religion should play no part at all.

Your thread title, and your subsequent posts, indicate that you think it is worth investigating a point of comparison between how authority is expressed, assumed and imparted within organised religions and how the same is expressed in secular government. I have been maintaining (and still see no reason to quit maintaining) that to do this is to miss the point if one genuinely wishes to understand how authority is actually expressed, adopted and then executed in society in general.

One of the crucial aspects to how political authority functions as a social governor is acquiescence on the part of those governed, and the biggest obstacle to implementing such authority is not so much an absence of acquiescence (which does occur, but only in rare circumstances) as it is the shifting nature, definition and degree of this acquiescence, as well as the value which those acquiescing place on their activity in this regard. In a democracy, for example, people may place more value on voluntary acquiescence than would be permitted in a more authoritarian regime (such as an absolute monarchy) but are in fact no more or less acquiescent than people within a dictatorship of the most extreme form - both systems require consensus to validate policy affecting the population, and whether that consensus is enforced or volunteered is actually less important than that it exists at all - which is why democracies like to present themselves as predicated on establishing "a common good, commonly arrived at" and dictators like to adopt as populist a stance and appeal as they can get away with. Both are acknowledging that their systems risk unravelling and becoming totally invalid without a critical degree of acquiescence on the part of the bulk of those governed.

Where religion fits so neatly into this matrix of dependencies is that it effectively short-cuts a huge amount of persuasion requirements on the part of the governors, one result of which is to deliver an acquiescent mass of population "ready persuaded" to the scenario. This is not to say that individual religions don't often find complications and discrepancies between their theological ethos and the principles of the political state - they do, and indeed some even originated due to such discord. However what they also represent, especially when structured to resemble any other authoritarian system, is an easily appropriated body of people, along with those people's already established acquiescence in the face of suggestion. As a bonus, the suggestion to which these people have been trained to be acquiescent is often so far removed from logical constraint that the appeal of an apparently demonstrably functional and logical system of representation, as government will inevitably portray itself as being, is even more attractive than it might otherwise have been. The religious person, in other words, is conditioned to place even more faith in the value and even the machinery of government than a purely secular and logical person might be inclined to do in particular circumstances.

The general effect of this is to enhance the prospects of effectively governing the majority of the population and, counter-intuitively (but an eminently demonstrable fact), the religions which claim in their origin myths to have been founded in a spirit of contradiction of whatever secular or religious authority existed at the time are the very ones which produce and deliver the greatest numbers of acquiescent people at any given time and to a level that can be most exploited by those wielding authority.

For me the main proof of this primary function of any religion is in its geo-political and demographic distribution. The value of adherence within any particular organised faith, however it is sold to its followers, is completely secondary to its function in delivering sufficient masses of potentially acquiescent people in defined political areas to then be governed by the political regimes that exist there, whatever form that government may take in secular guise. And, as with much else that is in essence politically motivated regarding how religions conduct themselves, this geo-political patchwork of power and influence is only enhanced and secured by encouraging the "faithful" to find fault and difference with each other's brand of superstitious belief, thereby helping maintain the physical, superstitious and ideological borders which both systems - secular and religious, utilise in their self-perpetuation. Religions' more philosophical elements within their various ethea - purely because they are philosophical and not superstitious in origin - tend to decrease such differences, but religions (usefully for politicians who can exploit difference as effectively as any mulla, bishop, guru, or rabbi as a tool to secure and maintain control) have also perfected quite a number of efficient ways to divert their followers from recognising this rather obvious quality to reasoned thought, probably the one feature of religion that most ensures its survival as a political force.
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PostSubject: Re: Comparison relation of Christianity and Islam to secular authorities   Sun May 06, 2018 9:43 am

nordmann I replied yesterday near midnight and lost my message. I was not in the mood to start it again.

Here it is:
thank you very much for this survey about authority and its relation with religions.
"One of the crucial aspects to how political authority functions as a social governor is acquiescence on the part of those governed, and the biggest obstacle to implementing such authority is not so much an absence of acquiescence (which does occur, but only in rare circumstances) as it is the shifting nature, definition and degree of this acquiescence, as well as the value which those acquiescing place on their activity in this regard. In a democracy, for example, people may place more value on voluntary acquiescence than would be permitted in a more authoritarian regime (such as an absolute monarchy) but are in fact no more or less acquiescent than people within a dictatorship of the most extreme form - both systems require consensus to validate policy affecting the population, and whether that consensus is enforced or volunteered is actually less important than that it exists at all - which is why democracies like to present themselves as predicated on establishing "a common good, commonly arrived at" and dictators like to adopt as populist a stance and appeal as they can get away with. Both are acknowledging that their systems risk unravelling and becoming totally invalid without a critical degree of acquiescence on the part of the bulk of those governed."

And here we are in the core of the discussion about authority again. Authority that rules and organizes a society. And one would expect that authority would act within that organizing for the good of the entire population. And I agree with you that you need at least a core of acquiescent people...as you said: "Both are acknowledging that their systems risk unravelling and becoming totally invalid without a critical degree of acquiescence on the part of the bulk of those governed."
And there we are again in our previous discussion.
https://reshistorica.forumotion.com/t1135-i-prefer-democracy-above-dictatorship
I presume that in a democracy there can come more correction from the basis by voting for change when the authority don't act as wanted by the bulk of the population. But we have seen in the past and perhaps also nowadays (even with all the information available) how the core of the common men and women can be persuaded of an act of the authorities. I think it is because the common man isn't that much interested in politics if he is happy in his daily life and as we learned with Hannah Arendt, he is that uninterested till he by all kind of tricks (as in the Nazi regime, in my opinion also a kind of religion, belief, coming to power in the Weimar Republik, with a 2/3 majority), is lurred into a dictatorship (I agree with you, as you said, a dictatorship has only a limited tenabilty). Some recent examples: the weapons of mass destruction, the last reaction on the socalled chemical attacks in the Syrian war, the show of the Israel PM about the Iranian atom program?

(As an aside: And I see now how I lost yesterday my message...until now if you clicked on a http in the preview, as the one here mentioned, you could return to your preview by clicking on the link again, but not anymore... you has to return to the previous page as on the French forum, otherwise your message is gone...)

And I still stay to my thoughts, assumptions of the democracy-dictatorship thread, although now I put a questionmark behind it Wink ...

"But up to now I was always talking about individual countries, and here I return to my former messages.
All good and well to establish for instance a flourishing social liberal country, but there are more than 100 sovereign countries in the world.
If one can't align all the social systems of these countries in some way, by the capitalistic system the money will flee to the best opportunities to gain money and that will be a country with a low social system where labour is cheap? And the currency of the countries with high labour cost or product cost will be depreciated? I have a vague rememberance that even a country as the UK was no match for the stock-exchange? The pound on its lowest value? Under Major? If even the UK can't resist, what then with Belgium?

And even the international plague of the tax-evasion can't be muzzled as long as the big ones, the US, the EU, Japan, China, India, Russia, Brazil don't act? Merkel wanted to do it in Germany, but as long as it is not a worldwide closure of the tax evasion paradises it will be wishful thinking?

KInd regards, Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: Comparison relation of Christianity and Islam to secular authorities   Mon May 07, 2018 2:00 am

There is a distinction between authority and power which becomes very relevant when approaching this topic too, Paul. Authority can be described as the accepted rules and methods whereby otherwise uncontrollable social forces are marshalled to fulfil a common aim. From this social requirement stems much that we associate with power, including religion too. However in effect they are expressions of authority and not actual power at all, be they secular laws and courts, or religious theological strictures and edicts. All of these are important aspects to how authority is commonly accepted to be defined, in what physical and metaphysical forms it should be agreed to appear, and ultimately therefore how sturdy a common framework by which society defines boundaries of behaviour can be constructed by that society so that the most general and basic rules of social engagement do not have to be assessed and judged by individuals on each individual occasion they are tested or required to be defined.

Power on the other hand is very much a more personal issue, related to how society then invests authority, once its framework is agreed, in the form of institutions run by select members of that society - not so much for a notion of a "common good" (though this is indeed an important political justification for this behaviour) but more because it is simply an unavoidable consequence of having adopted a notion of authority extending beyond the individual at all. "Power" thus means "power over others" wielded by a select few, and "authority" is simply a quality of that power with which general tolerance of its existence can be commonly justified.

Religion, if one leaves out each individual religion's disparate claims for a particular supernatural point of origin for its assumption of authority, is really just one more way by which societies maintain the metaphysical illusion of authority at all, given that "actual" authority is something which is entirely humanly created but which is in fact jeopardised if too much serious consideration is given to this fact. It is important for society that the notion of authority should not be challenged from within too much, and as such religion is a perfect mechanism for facilitating this requirement. But that's really all it is in its own right when it comes to authority - no individual religion perfectly describes fundamental authority (they contradict each other on that score) but taken all together they are a perfect expression of that human requirement.

Which of course makes them the perfect vehicles also for those who wish to wield power, part of which is getting those over whom you wish to hold authority to identify you as closely as possible with the font of that authority. In a secular democracy in which religion has no presence this means getting others to identify you as guardians and trustees of the machinery of state and its people, even if the evidence suggests you abuse this notion more often than you fulfil this role. Ironically, this was more or less how the Roman imperial system had presented itself to the masses as time went on, and as time went on the popular notion of what if any role religion should play in all this was diminishing as neither the powerful within the state nor those governed really required it to assess and analyse how power and authority were defined and implemented in a practical day-to-day manner within their society.

But of course a society completely devoid of a religious presence has been a very rare thing indeed, and even Rome at its most secular and greatest extent of its political and military might harboured within it a profusion of theological theories, often in competition, but all of which had a ready-made alternative definition of authority to that which the state promoted. For a while the powerful did not need these of course, so they were largely as tolerated as they were ignored.

However things didn't remain like that. As the state came under increasing pressure from within and without and faced social challenges the old simplistic definition of authority was no longer equal to, those who wished to be powerful naturally required to augment this definition with some maleable, ownable, but ultimately alternative definition which could be held up as an improvement over the old and, if necessary, be imposed through edict and law. In this respect there is no substitute for religion - this is exactly what it does best - and the state (as represented by the elite powerful coterie running it) wasted no time in adapting the ideology behind how and why they held power by grafting in as much of this ready-devised metaphysical justification for "autoritas" as religion could supply. Of course if these came from one religious sect than the price was that this sect also had to amend its ideology to conform to the new state-sponsored version, and this is more or less the process whereby Christianity made that final step into officialdom, and its "leaders" became very much arbiters of what constituted global authority (and therefore who deserved to hold power) thereafter. The fact that these leaders became indistinguishable in character and deed from their largely secular forerunners was not something either they or the state wished others to contemplate very much, and a hastily concocted alternative mythology began almost immediately to replace the old ones, in which the usual religious tropes were recycled to support the notion of this new and powerful partnership. One aspect to this was the assumption and promotion of secular language, terms and concepts within the approved texts and language of the sect's theology (Lords, Kingdoms etc), an imagery which matched this too (the myth's characters portrayed in traditional Roman imperial style etc), and a wholly detailed revised historical pedigree marrying the arcane to the mundane - not one designed to satisfy curious historians but one designed to give the new beneficiaries of this amended definition of authority the degree of imprimatur that Roman secular political dynasties and individuals had always required as "proof" of their right to wield power.

This traditionally adopted imprimatur was often invented, and understood by almost everyone to be so too (the need for it to exist exceeded the need for it to be verifiable), so in that sense religion also proved itself more than equal to the task of joining in and facilitating this requirement too - it has always employed a similar form of dubious imprimatur itself, and in fact in many ways has traditionally been much better at this than even the most astute Roman imperial patriarchal aspirant to power had ever been, after all he had a very specific and well-defined set of parameters to work with whereas religion tends to adopt as many variables as its developing theology provides, in theory an amount which can extend to the infinite as it is not constrained by mundane or physical limitations. Nowadays we might question as dubious whatever "autoritas" such a blatantly mendacious method could ever impart on behalf of the leaders who used it to secure power, but we cannot at all deny the simple historical fact that this is a tried and trusted method of securing just that. Evidence that Christianity served this role in late Roman eyes was the alacrity with which the establishment, having adopted it as a state religion, then insisted it start reducing these variables down to a manageable and controllable amount through imperially convened Councils or risk being jettisoned in favour of another more amenable religion. It of course obliged.

Nor should we imagine that this method was confined historically to one incident preceding the ultimate decline of the Western Roman Empire, and neither should we imagine even that it is a method confined to religious ideology. Nazi Germany, for example, demonstrated extensive use of this technique when its own leaders required to justify their emergence at the top of the political heap using myth as well as revised history to explain why they were there. Hitler even had a personal stab at recruiting Christianity and its established tropes into his revised mythology, as expressed in his badly thought-out book setting out his aims, though with admittedly uncertain effect at the time among a population which would not have been quite ready to abandon its investment in what those tropes already symbolised, however desperate the people may have been in other respects. However it is important to notice that even Hitler, hardly educated in the manipulation of myth before he set out, instinctively knew it still needed to be done if he was to acquire and hold on to power over a large society. Even after acquiring power this mythology was perpetuated, thereby demonstrating also that the acquisition of power does not automatically mean the acquisition of authority, and that religion and myth will be employed to pursue the latter, even if the former has already been firmly established.

Long-winded I know, but important just to illustrate that authority and power, though deliberately obfuscated in terms of distinction between them, especially by those who usurp the former to justify their acquisition of the latter, deserve quite separate definition and assessment. If one wishes to examine the process by which religion is "adopted" in any form by a "state" then that distinction is paramount, and a clear understanding of their difference helps one, in my view, to understand the exact social process whereby this occurs so frequently, why it occurs, and what it ultimately leads to for both the religious adherent and the person wishing to fully understand the secular forces which govern their existence. These can in fact be the same people, but they are two quite distinct considerations.
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PostSubject: Re: Comparison relation of Christianity and Islam to secular authorities   Mon May 07, 2018 10:25 am

nordmann,

thank you very much for again an interesting essay about the difference between power and authority.
Not long winded at least in my opinion, because to explain it fully one needs some pages...I guess if we start with the concept of the word "democracy" we will have even more pages...
I all read it attentively to not lose one thought.
I am glad that you gave the example of Nazi Germany and Hitler also needing a myth, once in power to come to a general acquiescent population to the authority of that power...? If I understood you right? Correct me if I misunderstood you...

Tomorrow I will study your essay further and give more comments.

Kind regards from Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: Comparison relation of Christianity and Islam to secular authorities   Mon May 07, 2018 7:59 pm

The Nazis are just an obvious example in my view, Paul, and I used them merely to indicate how Hitler - not the cleverest manipulator of public opinion in my view, though clever at recruiting others who were - still instinctively knew at an early stage that such manipulation of myth would be needed. He was something of an amateur at that stage. Proof of this naivete was when he tried to appropriate to support his stated agenda several current mythical tropes already in heavy circulation due to existing religious endorsement, being used in quite definite ways that contradicted his own metaphysical take on their value, and which had been long employed anyway in ensuring many other people than Nazis could and should hold power. This naive and extremely clumsy re-assignment of existing and popular mythical tropes is always a mistake if one is coming in from left-field in these situations, certainly without having first ingratiated oneself into establishment presence (as Hitler was still at that point outside the establishment pale), and even he soon realised therefore that it was far better to employ myth which could stand parallel to Christian tropes without seeming to threaten them, and hold the long view towards eventually replacing one set with the other of his own devising within a newly defined establishment also of his own devising. In Hitler's case this meant dropping the "himself as the new Christ" insinuation and letting the existing Christ tropes, along with the existing "Jew as Judas as Traitor" trope simply carry on as they were - they were of bigger benefit to him if he in fact didn't touch them at all.

This revised approach was more in keeping also with what had happened in Roman society when its leaders shifted the establishment religion from one myth cycle to another in a rather abrupt and deliberate manner, and we will never know how successful the Nazis may or may not have been in this regard since the process Hitler and his regime initiated was itself so abruptly and permanently stopped in its tracks at a quite nascent stage (as myth-building goes). We do know however that it worked spectacularly well for the Romans, who were canny enough to realise that no appropriation of the "newly inserted" mythical tropes which couldn't sit comfortably in both the old and the new versions of the state religion should be attempted. However if that meant the "new" religion itself had to become something rather different than what it had planned to be at the outset, so be it. Absence of blatant contradiction was they key to gelling the old and new, and it worked. And it would probably have worked for Hitler too, had it had more time to be prosecuted as a state policy.

But that's just one point of comparison. There are countless other examples of such appropriation and invention of myth, almost one for every incident of assumption of power in fact, be it by a revolutionary party changing the political ideology of the state, or even a firmly establishment-bred individual going for the top spot in any regime. And for these big players the temptation to employ whole packages of tropes in achieving their aim to acquire power is normally too great, especially if these have been pre-packaged and road-tested by an organised religion willing to play ball. Hitler may have initially cherry-picked some of these tropes without much cooperation from the organised churches of the day, but in fact it is far more normal in such cases to invite the religion in at ground level and bring all its tropes with it as part of the deal.

Russia in its latest manifestation, for example, seems to conform more to the latter, more usual, technique.
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PostSubject: Re: Comparison relation of Christianity and Islam to secular authorities   Tue May 08, 2018 10:59 am

nordmann,

thank you for yet another elaboration of your thoughts about the subject.

"But that's just one point of comparison. There are countless other examples of such appropriation and invention of myth, almost one for every incident of assumption of power in fact, be it by a revolutionary party changing the political ideology of the state, or even a firmly establishment-bred individual going for the top spot in any regime. And for these big players the temptation to employ whole packages of tropes in achieving their aim to acquire power is normally too great, especially if these have been pre-packaged and road-tested by an organised religion willing to play ball. Hitler may have initially cherry-picked some of these tropes without much cooperation from the organised churches of the day, but in fact it is far more normal in such cases to invite the religion in at ground level and bring all its tropes with it as part of the deal.
Russia in its latest manifestation, for example, seems to conform more to the latter, more usual, technique."

And here I suppose we come to the core question: Is the general public mature enough to let it not lure into populist "tropes" from these big player leaders? And I guess even to this moment it isn't, for all kind of reasons. A suggestion could be that the public, via its representants in the parliament, lets establish a kind of "dictator" in situations of danger for the "nation" as in the Greek times? And once the danger is away it comes again to normal rule? I still see Britain in WWII as an example, with Churchill and the War Cabinet and after the war, the task done, again business as usual...?
http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/worldwars/wwtwo/election_01.shtml
That's a democracy in my opinion...but usually the "dictator" in times of danger or times perceived as dangerous by the general population (and of course a would be dictator can as populist buy on those perceptions) brings the government services (authorities?) under his direct control and until the public is aware of it, it becomes a dictatorship with a full repression against the own population to keep it docile...

nordmann, I put "trope" between quotation marks, because I found in translation: style figure that don't say that much to me...in Dutch "stijlfiguur". For me I understand better "verisimilitude" the Latin translation? of the Dutch: "schijnwaarheid" (apparent truth)

So far my first thoughts about your two last messages.

Kind regards from Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: Comparison relation of Christianity and Islam to secular authorities   Tue May 08, 2018 7:43 pm

A "trope" is simply a conveniently packaged concept that saves people from having to think, a form of intellectual shorthand but without the necessity to always make sense. Philosophy, by definition, picks away at these and regards them as intellectual challenges. Religion, by definition, embraces them unquestioningly (even forbidding questions on pain of death if it can get away with it) and runs with them as far as it can. You can guess which approach plays best for politicians seeking power.
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PostSubject: Re: Comparison relation of Christianity and Islam to secular authorities   Wed May 09, 2018 11:02 am

Thank you very much nordmann for your explanation of "trope". Now I understand it better.

As said to LiR the whole evening (in fact from nine thirty to now..) with brother Cadfael and his stories...

Kind regards from Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: Comparison relation of Christianity and Islam to secular authorities   Wed May 16, 2018 1:31 am

It cannot be denied that those who have religious "authority" have always worked hand-in-glove with those who wield the real power in this world. Power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely; and what can be more absolute than a power that claims authority over men's souls in this world and the next? But it must be pointed out  - if the historical argument is to be fair and balanced - that such collusion is absolutely contrary to the more enlightened - and usually ignored - teachings of the Old and New Testaments. I cannot speak about other faiths: I am too ignorant.  I think this was briefly mentioned up thread, but was not an idea anyone thought worth developing.  The Old Testament prophets railed against the priests who betrayed their vocation, as did John the Baptist and Jesus of Nazareth. The story of the temptation of Christ in the wilderness may be seen as of great significance here. The narrative brilliantly describes a man fully aware that he had a choice: serve God and be weak, poor, misunderstood and ultimately humiliated; or chose the power and glory of this world. Interesting too that the story tells us that one of the reasons that Christ during his ministry was particularly hated by the Pharisees and the high officials of the Temple, the Sadducees (who worked very happily and profitably with the Romans), was that he, a poor man from that God-forsaken hole, Nazareth, was seen to be one who nevertheless spoke "with authority".


Here is the text - KJV Matthew 4. Please note the language is figurative: we are not talking little horned demons here (well, I'm certainly not):


8 Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them;

9 And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.



PS
@nordmann wrote:
A "trope" is simply a conveniently packaged concept that saves people from having to think, a form of intellectual shorthand but without the necessity to always make sense. Philosophy, by definition, picks away at these and regards them as intellectual challenges. Religion, by definition, embraces them unquestioningly (even forbidding questions on pain of death if it can get away with it) and runs with them as far as it can. You can guess which approach plays best for politicians seeking power.

Augustine was big on tropes. Thought they were a very good idea. Not sure he would be entire agreement with above though.


http://www.oxfordhandbooks.com/view/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199731596.001.0001/oxfordhb-9780199731596-e-025
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PostSubject: Re: Comparison relation of Christianity and Islam to secular authorities   Wed May 16, 2018 7:16 pm

@Temperance wrote:
But it must be pointed out - if the historical argument is to be fair and balanced - that such collusion is absolutely contrary to the more enlightened - and usually ignored - teachings of the Old and New Testaments.

This is a very pertinent point when it comes to religion and its own self-serving definition of "authority". It is absolutely true that most religious theologies contain enlightened concepts, and as I said earlier these embedded concepts - all philosophical hypotheses given the false lustre of absolute truths when employed by religion - are often even vestiges of the very reason why that particular religion sprang up in the first place and caught people's imagination in a very fundamental way, enough people at the same time to kick-start the theology as a "movement", with all that this entails subsequently regarding later organisation, proselytisation, and everything else we associate with what are called "popular" faiths.

However this also puts the spotlight on the concept of "auctoritas" and how it fails to apply to religion using the standards of application that pertain in any other social context. Because all theologies demand that the subscriber acquiesces without question to patently absurd premises upon which all its claims to authority are predicated the notion of authority itself (by definition in religion an assumed quality and not voluntarily conferred based on normal social interaction) is therefore quite intentionally removed - normally through edict rigorously applied from within that religion - from objective analysis and any danger of being discredited from that application of critical reason. "Authority" in the sense that applies in every other context is therefore lost, and replaced instead by an instruction, often made with very real physical threats, to recognise this spurious claim to authority as being authority itself. This is of course very human behaviour and connected very closely to acquisition of power - it is by no means confined to religions and is clearly evident in almost all examples of social networks, interactions and organisations designed to produce leaders and led. In politics, for example, this is a commonly utilised short-term tactic used by an individual or faction to gain precedence over others in society, and tolerated by society on the understanding that it is just that - a short term expedience. The politician who overplays this tactic or prolongs it beyond this point of tolerance is normally stripped of all conferred authority quite quickly and tends to suffer the political consequences of what is socially dismissed as hubris on their part. In religion however it is very much a permanent strategy, one by which religion is in fact defined as different to any other intellectual ideology or philosophy. Without a claim to authority a religion cannot survive or even exist. However any effort to critically examine that claim or identify the hubris it betrays will ultimately invalidate the religion so, unlike as in more conventional political interactivity, the corrupted notion of authority is enforced - often with extreme vehemence - to the detriment of logic, reason and truth.

In philosophical terms it is difficult therefore to regard religious "authority" as anything but the pure antithesis of authority. Much like religious "logic" or even religious "morality", its essential quality once applied within a theology is one of semantic corruption. Which of course makes it very useful as an exploitable tool by ambitious people seeking power.
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Temperance
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PostSubject: Re: Comparison relation of Christianity and Islam to secular authorities   Wed May 16, 2018 9:47 pm

Apologies, Paul, this is rather off-topic, but it is a sort of response to nordmann's post above. Just been reading something Nietzsche wrote (in a letter to his sister actually):

"Hence the ways of men part: if you wish to strive for peace of soul and pleasure, then believe; if you wish to be a devotee of truth, then inquire..."

Surely it is possible to do both: to believe and to inquire? The truth will set you free, as someone once remarked, but of course it will make you extremely miserable and confused first. The rejection of authorised absurdity does not necessarily mean a loss of a private faith - being a Protestant after all originally meant protesting against the corruption and hypocrisy and utter lunacy of much that passes for organised "religion". Jesus of Nazareth was a Protestant at heart - isn't that why the "authorities", both religious and secular, conspired to get rid of him? The man was an absolute menace.


PS Poor Nietzsche - have read also this morning the story of him weeping over the beaten horse. That little tale has really got to me - sympathy for both the unhappy philosopher and the suffering animal with whom he identified.
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PostSubject: Re: Comparison relation of Christianity and Islam to secular authorities   Wed May 16, 2018 10:08 pm

@Temperance wrote:
Surely it is possible to do both: to believe and to inquire?

That would seem to depend very much on what one has chosen to believe. A belief invested in a premise that precludes inquiry hardly works to inquiry's benefit.

In philosophy this apparent dichotomy is negotiated through accepting that "belief" is merely entertaining a hypothesis, and that inquiry is free to undermine that hypothesis if its pursuit leads one to conclusions contravening that which had been previously believed. However religion (and this is what makes it religion and not to be confused with honest inquiry) makes no such provision for abandoning the hypothesis. In fact it doesn't even regard whatever core belief that it encourages subscribers to adopt as hypothesis at all. Instead it avers it as fact.

You can see the problem ...
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PostSubject: Re: Comparison relation of Christianity and Islam to secular authorities   Wed May 16, 2018 11:10 pm

@nordmann wrote:
@Temperance wrote:
Surely it is possible to do both: to believe and to inquire?

That would seem to depend very much on what one has chosen to believe. A belief invested in a premise that precludes inquiry hardly works to inquiry's benefit.

In philosophy this apparent dichotomy is negotiated through accepting that "belief" is merely entertaining a hypothesis, and that inquiry is free to undermine that hypothesis if its pursuit leads one to conclusions contravening that which had been previously believed. However religion (and this is what makes it religion and not to be confused with honest inquiry) makes no such provision for abandoning the hypothesis. In fact it doesn't even regard whatever core belief that it encourages subscribers to adopt as hypothesis at all. Instead it avers it as fact.

You can see the problem ...

Of course I see the problem. My problem is that I don't have a problem with the problem. For me, accepting belief as "merely entertaining a hypothesis" makes complete sense. I like the idea of faith as something that evolves and changes. Apologies again to Paul for being off-topic, but may I quote this from John Shelby Spong's "Why Christianity Must Change or Die"?


"As a believer I am not prepared to deny the reality of the underlying Christian experience. Yet I do recognise that the future understanding and the very shape of Christianity will inevitably be different, profoundly different, from that which has come down to us from the past. The real issue for me is whether or not that developing future is or still can be adequately attached to its Christian past....So while claiming to be a believer, and still asserting my deeply held commitment to Jesus of Nazareth, I also recognise that I live in a state of exile from the presuppositions of my own religious past. I am exiled from the literal understanding that shaped the creed at its creation. I am exiled from the worldview in which the creed was formed...The only thing I know to do in this moment of Christian history is to enter this exile, to feel its anxiety and discomfort, but to continue to be a believer."


You no doubt will say I have missed the point - perhaps I have. But, while maintaining my own complete commitment to the teaching of the Nazarene, I have also declared - to the horror of many - that I am an agnostic: for me it is the only honest thing to be. None of us "know" the complete truth: we can only read, ponder, sometimes agonise or, perhaps most of the time, simply hope. But the search for "truth" goes on: we are in real trouble when it stops - or is stopped. On that I hope we agree. Bacon said Pilate wouldn't stay for an answer to his "truth" question: perhaps he just didn't have the time. Too busy being an important Roman, I suppose.

I should add that Spong angers many "Christians": he and others of his kidney are all seen as mad heretics and dangerous destroyers of "faith" - which rather backs up what you say.
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PostSubject: Re: Comparison relation of Christianity and Islam to secular authorities   Thu May 17, 2018 12:53 am

@Temperance wrote:
You no doubt will say I have missed the point - perhaps I have. But, while maintaining my own complete commitment to the teaching of the Nazarene, I have also declared - to the horror of many - that I am an agnostic: for me it is the only honest thing to be. None of us "know" the complete truth: we can only read, ponder, sometimes  agonise or, perhaps most of the time, simply hope.

Well Temp you are in good company ... both Carl Sagan and Richard Dawkins to my certain knowledge (though please don't ask me to find the exact quotations, although I'm sure I could find them if really necessary), who have generally identified themselves as atheists in that they have never found any evidence to the contrary ... have nevertheless openly stated that, strictly-speaking, they were agnostic, because like you and everyone else for that matter, they did not in all honesty, "know". I mention only Sagan and Dawkins because I'm familiar with their writings but doubtless there are many others .... such as probably Einstein, Russell, Dennett and Hawking.

But at the end of the day this is just word-play. Since there is no evidence for a god, God, nor indeed any gods at all, one should be able to state confidently one's atheism ... while at the same time accepting that one has to be philosophically agnostic.

But I'm not sure where this "hope" thing fits in, nor indeed what any of the above might have been "hoping for" ... and I very much doubt any of these people were "hoping" for the same things as, say, evangelical protestant christians, fundamentalist sunni moslems, nationalistic bhuddists ... nor indeed if we're going back in time;  German National Socialists,  or Russian Soviet communists. Nevertheless I suspect Sagan, Dawkins and the many of the others were probably united in simply hoping they'd live long enough to get just that little bit more knowledge / understanding ... the results of a test; the thoughts of a colleague; the opinion of a rival; a tad more data .. before their time was done.
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PostSubject: Re: Comparison relation of Christianity and Islam to secular authorities   Thu May 17, 2018 6:13 pm

MM wrote:
But at the end of the day this is just word-play...

Yes, I know. But words - so imprecise and so easily misunderstood - are all we have. But one can talk too much and - foolish old woman that I no doubt am - I do that all the time. I try to clarify and succeed only in baffling and exasperating.

You have changed the wording of your post since yesterday: the tone has hardened again - or am I misreading you? Please don't lump me together with "evangelical protestant christians, fundamentalist sunni moslems, nationalistic bhuddists ... nor indeed if we're going back in time;  German National Socialists,  or Russian Soviet communists." Such people have - or have had - their "religions", their "hopes" , but theirs is surely - or has been - a will to power, not to love and good will for their fellow humans. That's certainly not what I'm about with my incomprehensible "hope". But I'm glad that in my general woolliness I'm up there with those great scientists you mention: I've always had a sneaky admiration for Dawkins; and Sagan was an utterly sane and reasonable man. Perhaps, like Milton, I'm of the Devil's party without knowing it. Oh heck.

Seriously - there is room in this universe for many different points of view - and temperaments. What there isn't room for - and I shall fight it to my dying day - is brutality and bigotry. I think that, poor as the words are, we all here are agreed on that.

I believe Buzz Aldrin took the Sacrament just before he stepped out on the moon. Sort of science meets God - gravity apparently did very odd things with the wine. But it's not my story, so I shall say no more.

It's 7.00am and this is a muddled post. But I'm out all day and I did not want you to think I was ignoring your comments. We are so different in our thinking, yet your opinions and ideas matter to me, otherwise I would not bother here. The common ground is surely that we can both listen to Mozart and be moved to tears. Remember the quote from Amadeus?


Antonio Salieri: I heard the music of true forgiveness filling the theatre, conferring on all who sat there, perfect absolution. God was singing through this little man to all the world, unstoppable, making my defeat more bitter with every passing bar.


What a load of waffle I do come out with - words, words, words -  even first thing in the morning; but, what the heck, will still send.
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PostSubject: Re: Comparison relation of Christianity and Islam to secular authorities   Thu May 17, 2018 6:58 pm

I wasn't trying to harden my stance nor lump you together with religious fundamentalists of whatever persuasion ... I was really just trying to illustrate that "hope" can be a bit of a weasel word and that what you or I might hope for would not necessarily be the same as anyone else, that was all.
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PostSubject: Re: Comparison relation of Christianity and Islam to secular authorities   Fri May 18, 2018 11:30 am

@Temperance wrote:
It cannot be denied that those who have religious "authority" have always worked hand-in-glove with those who wield the real power in this world. Power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely; and what can be more absolute than a power that claims authority over men's souls in this world and the next? But it must be pointed out  - if the historical argument is to be fair and balanced - that such collusion is absolutely contrary to the more enlightened - and usually ignored - teachings of the Old and New Testaments. I cannot speak about other faiths: I am too ignorant.  I think this was briefly mentioned up thread, but was not an idea anyone thought worth developing.  The Old Testament prophets railed against the priests who betrayed their vocation, as did John the Baptist and Jesus of Nazareth. The story of the temptation of Christ in the wilderness may be seen as of great significance here. The narrative brilliantly describes a man fully aware that he had a choice: serve God and be weak, poor, misunderstood and ultimately humiliated; or chose the power and glory of this world. Interesting too that the story tells us that one of the reasons that Christ during his ministry was particularly hated by the Pharisees and the high officials of the Temple, the Sadducees (who worked very happily and profitably with the Romans), was that he, a poor man from that God-forsaken hole, Nazareth, was seen to be one who nevertheless spoke "with authority".


Here is the text - KJV Matthew 4. Please note the language is figurative: we are not talking little horned demons here (well, I'm certainly not):


8 Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them;

9 And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.



PS
@nordmann wrote:
A "trope" is simply a conveniently packaged concept that saves people from having to think, a form of intellectual shorthand but without the necessity to always make sense. Philosophy, by definition, picks away at these and regards them as intellectual challenges. Religion, by definition, embraces them unquestioningly (even forbidding questions on pain of death if it can get away with it) and runs with them as far as it can. You can guess which approach plays best for politicians seeking power.

Augustine was big on tropes. Thought they were a very good idea. Not sure he would be entire agreement with above though.


http://www.oxfordhandbooks.com/view/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199731596.001.0001/oxfordhb-9780199731596-e-025

Temperance,


excuses, I promised yesterday to reply to you overhere, but the whole evening on Historum composing replies in a thread about Belgium, language, culture, nationhood and all... Embarassed

Kind regards, Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: Comparison relation of Christianity and Islam to secular authorities   Sat May 19, 2018 11:14 am

@Meles meles wrote:
@Temperance wrote:
You no doubt will say I have missed the point - perhaps I have. But, while maintaining my own complete commitment to the teaching of the Nazarene, I have also declared - to the horror of many - that I am an agnostic: for me it is the only honest thing to be. None of us "know" the complete truth: we can only read, ponder, sometimes  agonise or, perhaps most of the time, simply hope.

Well Temp you are in good company ... both Carl Sagan and Richard Dawkins to my certain knowledge (though please don't ask me to find the exact quotations, although I'm sure I could find them if really necessary), who have generally identified themselves as atheists in that they have never found any evidence to the contrary ... have nevertheless openly stated that, strictly-speaking, they were agnostic, because like you and everyone else for that matter, they did not in all honesty, "know". I mention only Sagan and Dawkins because I'm familiar with their writings but doubtless there are many others .... such as probably Einstein, Russell, Dennett and Hawking.

But at the end of the day this is just word-play. Since there is no evidence for a god, God, nor indeed any gods at all, one should be able to state confidently one's atheism ... while at the same time accepting that one has to be philosophically agnostic.

But I'm not sure where this "hope" thing fits in, nor indeed what any of the above might have been "hoping for" ... and I very much doubt any of these people were "hoping" for the same things as, say, evangelical protestant christians, fundamentalist sunni moslems, nationalistic bhuddists ... nor indeed if we're going back in time;  German National Socialists,  or Russian Soviet communists. Nevertheless I suspect Sagan, Dawkins and the many of the others were probably united in simply hoping they'd live long enough to get just that little bit more knowledge / understanding ... the results of a test; the thoughts of a colleague; the opinion of a rival; a tad more data .. before their time was done.

Meles meles and Temperance,

just stopped again an evening defending the Belgians on the Historum forum and before, delayed by a dinner this afternoon with friends, so only started at 9:30h defending those Belgians...
but nevertheless read the whole discussion now...
First I read about Carl Sagan that you mentioned...Dawkins I already know...

And as you say nobody really "knows" and one can only "hope" that one time there will be some logical theory that fits with the scientific observations and that will be the platform for other scientific observations from which other logical theories can be formed, some hope that was expressed in one of the articles of my scientific montly...
The danger in all this and I am glad that I had the discussion with nordmann, that when one starts with "dogmas" that cannot be discussed, there is no hope anymore for further research as one in science do, putting a "dogma" in question for further research. And these dogmas can be accepted once a critical mass of the population becomes convinced of the value of these "dogmas". Mostly this new "religion" (and I add also the Communism of Karl Marx to it (I recently saw a documentary about Marx)) seeks its fundaments in existing thinking inherited perhaps from the dawn of the ascending of man, for instance the struggle between good and bad within the individual, as in Zoroasterianism, even in Marxism I see "dogmas", where the "bible" of Marxism can't be altered and all the dissidents are "heretics" and have to be prosecuted...for instance the Stalinist Communism against the Trotsky's dissident, revisionism...so Trosky had to be murdered in South America...

I wondered why nobody in this thread pointed to similitudes in each religion as based on experiences and customs of the prehistory human and some clever leaders in the emerging societies to use this all to get authority in this society and to come to power...

And therefore Temperance, I don't say that there aren't good proposals in religion, as they after all are mostly based on rules in society obtained during thousands of years of growing organically within the emerging societies. And as I understand you you see it the same way, only that those, who "believe" in a higher being, directing the world, and accepting it as dogma, aren't able to put it all in question and wait till there is more "known" about what is going on in the universe? 

Kind regards to both from Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: Comparison relation of Christianity and Islam to secular authorities   Sun May 20, 2018 10:20 am

Still the whole evening busy about the Belgians (on the Historum forum). Excuses...

Kind regards from Paul.
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