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Re: [S.T.O.R.Y. 4/7/02] This dojo was built by Time Lords

PostPosted: Mon Nov 17, 2008 9:29 pm
by Tarvok
I disagree about religion being the motivating factor behind most wars. I'm fairly certain people have been fighting wars since well before the time of Mohommad, Jesus, or even Moses. Of course, earlier peoples had earlier systems of belief, but which system is in favor doesn't seem to have much effect upon whether or not people fight wars.

My thought is that war is always about the same thing: control of resources. The thing that makes war possible is the same thing: an absence of socio-cultural connections between the two peoples involved, and particularly trade links enabling them to access each others' resources. The impression I get is that, in our natural state, we don't really need much more than, "They have good stuff we lack, and we can get more by fighting than trading."

Enter religion, specifically Christianity, as that is what I am most familiar with. Now you've got a guy who most people in the culture (once Christianity is the dominant cultural paradigm, rather than just another Semitic cult) regard as the font of truth. And this guy said things like "If a man takes your cloak, offer him also your coat," "love your enemy, and pray for those that persecute you," and answered with the parable of the Good Samaritan when craftily asked, "and who is my neighbor?" It's a bit more difficult to get people to fight wars if they actually believe that stuff in an undistorted form. Thus, the forces for war must distort it.

So you end up with concepts like holy war, the killing of heathens and heretics as a good and noble thing, cognitive dissonance in the form of it being possible to love your enemy at the same time you are shooting him from the trenches (thank you, C.S. Lewis). You get people resurrecting old notions of death in battle as a ticket to paradise, with pseudo-Christian trappings. And the greatest trick, of course, is to convince people that The State is the agent of The Almighty, and never mind the fact that the prophets (particularly Daniel) clearly identified The State with beasts.

Religion, particularly Christianity and Buddhism (in undistorted forms), aren't so much a motivation for war, as an impediment that must be worked around. Islam, of course, got its start as a conquest religion, but it shouldn't be forgotten that, in their early days, Muslims were probably the most tolerant people around. Many Christians, those from sects not approved by their Byzantine overlords, regarded Muslims not as invaders, but liberators. There were more Christians in the early Caliphate's administration than Muslims, for the simple reason that the Muslims of the time, while being the military elite, were not really all that numerous. And so long as you only worshiped one god, they didn't much care what you called him, so long as you paid your taxes (or did your military service, if you were, in fact, Muslim). Not only where Christians and Jews (the "People of the Book") tolerated, but Zoroastrians were, as well.

Re: [S.T.O.R.Y. 4/7/02] This dojo was built by Time Lords

PostPosted: Mon Nov 17, 2008 9:41 pm
by potentia
Well that doesn't directly contradict what I was saying in the sense that I did state that people missed the point of religion and got lost along the way. Religion can be a good thing, as it gives people the opportunity and the knowledge of how to be better than they are, such as Jesus' teachings on turning the other cheek (to use your example). It's just that at times, it can just as easily be twisted into giving people an impetus for war and argument, ie "They don't follow the same God we do, so let's purge them, or convert by the sword". It's that element of religion that I wish would disappear. Though as has been stated before, people will just find other reasons to fight. I just hope we get our act together before something catastrophic happens that all of our fighting can't prepare us for.

Re: [S.T.O.R.Y. 4/7/02] This dojo was built by Time Lords

PostPosted: Mon Nov 17, 2008 10:33 pm
by Darekun
Three things:

Tarvok wrote:I disagree about religion being the motivating factor behind most wars.

I don't think "most wars" was at issue - rather, is the net impact of religion pro-war or anti-war?

Tarvok wrote:My thought is that war is always about the same thing: control of resources.

That "always" fails on two counts that I can think of: some of the Crusades, and some of the present fighting in the middle east. Without the religious flag of "the holy land in infidel hands", the Crusades would've been a lot smaller, and religious differences certainly concentrated fire; and the present fighting in the middle east often draws along sunni/shi'a lines even when that opposes resource-control goals. (That last has possibly been true for ages.)

War is usually about resources, though; religion amplifies new violence and perpetuates old violence rather than forming the seed itself.

Tarvok wrote:Religion, particularly Christianity and Buddhism (in undistorted forms),

Calling the old-school stuff "distorted forms" is false; half of Christianity predates Jesus. Calling the post-Jesus form "distorted" has some merit, but Jesus's distortion was a real improvement. What's really going on there is a memetic quasispecies, as I've mentioned before - ask ten protestant priests what parts of the Old Testament no longer apply, and you'll get ten incompatible answers.

Re: [S.T.O.R.Y. 4/7/02] This dojo was built by Time Lords

PostPosted: Tue Nov 18, 2008 3:40 am
by Man on the Moon
Darekun wrote:That "always" fails on two counts that I can think of: some of the Crusades, and some of the present fighting in the middle east. Without the religious flag of "the holy land in infidel hands", the Crusades would've been a lot smaller


Possibly, but the question becomes would the world situation that produced the Crusades ever happen without religion. Does the Roman Empire ever fall without pacifistic Christianity nipping at its heels? Alternatively, does the entire civilized world fall to the barbarians because Constantine fails to rally his troops at the Milvian Bridge and thus never founds Constantinople, the fortress-city that held the East together? If pagan religions are included, is there ever even a city called Rome?

Re: [S.T.O.R.Y. 4/7/02] This dojo was built by Time Lords

PostPosted: Tue Nov 18, 2008 5:14 pm
by Nightranger
Tarvok wrote:*lots of stuff on religion and warfare*

In the whole, I agree with you here. Specifically:
And so long as you only worshiped one god, they didn't much care what you called him, so long as you paid your taxes (or did your military service, if you were, in fact, Muslim). Not only where Christians and Jews (the "People of the Book") tolerated, but Zoroastrians were, as well.

This is actually something that my social studies teacher last year but a bit of focus on when we talked about religion and about the Crusades. To elaborate, there's a passage in the Qur’an that refers to Jews, Christians, and Muslims as "People of the Book"--since all three religions basically share the same god, the same origins, and many of the same beliefs--and it also instructs fallowers to have peaceful relations with the other two religions. (Osama must have missed the memo) He also brought up how after Saladin gained control of Jerusalem he allowed pilgrims from all "People of the Book" to make pilgrimages to the city, and protected Jews and Christians caught inside the city when the Christian armies came to reclaim it.

Darekun wrote:
Tarvok wrote:I disagree about religion being the motivating factor behind most wars.

I don't think "most wars" was at issue - rather, is the net impact of religion pro-war or anti-war?

Off hand, I can't think of a single war that has religion as its main cause. However, I also cannot think of any instance where there is adequate evidence to suggest that religion has prevented a war. Whether religion has a net pro-war or anti-war effect depend on how you interpret these terms. (first off, I think violence or conflict might be a better term instead of war, as it allows things such as terrorism and other killings that aren't actually wars to be considered) Like I said earlier (and like you go on to say), it has been used as justification for conflict and as propaganda. So, it's possible that, even though religion didn't cause whatever conflict, it may have allowed or at least aided rulers in executing said conflict. However, I'd say that any ruler throughout history that has used religion as a propaganda tool would have been able to come up with some other in its absence. So, I'd say no substantial net effect.

Darekun wrote:
Tarvok wrote:Religion, particularly Christianity and Buddhism (in undistorted forms),

Calling the old-school stuff "distorted forms" is false; half of Christianity predates Jesus. Calling the post-Jesus form "distorted" has some merit, but Jesus's distortion was a real improvement. What's really going on there is a memetic quasispecies, as I've mentioned before - ask ten protestant priests what parts of the Old Testament no longer apply, and you'll get ten incompatible answers.

I think what Tarvok means by "undistorted forms" is what is says in the holy writ of whatever religion. However, exactly how distorted that is from what Jesus or whatever religion figure in question actual said...well...something more religious people should really consider. :smug: Anyway, I think what Tarvok is driving at is that at its core, the Christian Bible (at least any version of it that I've heard of) teaches tolerance and advocates peace; it also says "thou shalt not kill". However, many leaders--both political and religious--find it expedient to simply take what parts of the Bible support their beliefs/agendas and ignore the rest. We see this today whenever a preacher cites a passage from the Bible as proof that homosexuality is a vile, sinful, etc. All of which basically feeds into your quasispecies arguement.

Re: [S.T.O.R.Y. 4/7/02] This dojo was built by Time Lords

PostPosted: Tue Nov 18, 2008 5:59 pm
by Man on the Moon
Nightranger wrote:To elaborate, there's a passage in the Qur’an that refers to Jews, Christians, and Muslims as "People of the Book"--since all three religions basically share the same god, the same origins, and many of the same beliefs--and it also instructs fallowers to have peaceful relations with the other two religions.


Along that line:

Sura 2:62
"Surely those who believe, and those who are Jews, and the Christians, and the Sabians, whoever believes in God and the Last day and does good, they shall have their reward from their Lord, and there is no fear for them, nor shall they grieve"

Sura 2:177
"It is not righteousness that you turn your faces towards the East and the West, but righteousness is this that one should believe in God and the last day and the angels and the Book and the prophets, and give away wealth out of love for Him to the near of kin and the orphans and the needy and the wayfarer and the beggars and for (the emancipation of) the captives, and keep up prayer and pay the poor-rate; and the performers of their promise when they make a promise, and the patient in distress and affliction and in time of conflicts-- these are they who are true (to themselves) and these are they who guard (against evil)."

Re: [S.T.O.R.Y. 4/7/02] This dojo was built by Time Lords

PostPosted: Wed Nov 19, 2008 12:00 am
by Darekun
Nightranger wrote:I think what Tarvok means by "undistorted forms" is what is says in the holy writ of whatever religion.

The problem is it says a lot in most of them, and in particular the christian bible has its share of intolerance and jingo in the Old Testament. The New Testament generally has the tone you describe, but at the very least you have different apostles presenting opposed views as fact. The bigger problem is it's not "tightly-coded" - there's interpretation in what parts of the Old Testament no longer apply. The vitriol is actually in there, and claiming that those who favor those parts are using "distorted forms" is the same mechanism by which that vitriol is upheld.

In short, the Bible itself is a quasispecies. That tends to happen after a couple hundred years, or sometimes after mere decades - look at the Lotus Sutra.

Re: [S.T.O.R.Y. 4/7/02] This dojo was built by Time Lords

PostPosted: Wed Nov 19, 2008 7:18 pm
by Nightranger
Yeah. It's not too suprising, really. Consider the different languages the Bible has been translated into through the ages. (Muslims actually seem to acknowledge this effect, at least in part; hense, they'll tell you that the Qur'an looses much of it's meaning if translated into a language other than Islam.) And how for some time it was copied by hand each time. And, at any step in this process, the possibility of some creative person adding "imbellishments" or "interpretation" to it. Then also consider how the meaning of a single word can change over time. And then add to that cultural idioms that fall into and out of use (such as "raining cats and dogs"). And on top of that, add figurative language, double meanings, and what-else-not.

Is it any wonder I don't put much stock in religion, expecially ones that cling tightly to a strict, "absolute" interpretation of their scripture.

Re: [S.T.O.R.Y. 4/7/02] This dojo was built by Time Lords

PostPosted: Wed Nov 19, 2008 8:20 pm
by nitpicking
Nightranger wrote:Yeah. It's not too suprising, really. Consider the different languages the Bible has been translated into through the ages. (Muslims actually seem to acknowledge this effect, at least in part; hense, they'll tell you that the Qur'an looses much of it's meaning if translated into a language other than Islam.)

I assume you mean "Arabic".

In Saudi Arabia, Wahabi clerics are mistranslating the Qu'ran. Some of the non-Arabic versions literally refer to God destroying Israeli tanks!

If this stuff interests you you should read Misquoting Jesus by Bart Ehrman.

Re: [S.T.O.R.Y. 4/7/02] This dojo was built by Time Lords

PostPosted: Wed Nov 19, 2008 8:31 pm
by Man on the Moon
Nightranger wrote:Consider the different languages the Bible has been translated into through the ages.


The New Testament was written in Greek. Today....it's still in Greek. :P

And how for some time it was copied by hand each time. And, at any step in this process, the possibility of some creative person adding "imbellishments" or "interpretation" to it.


You speak like there was only one copy of the Bible. Thousands of copies spread over all of what had been the West Roman Empire, what was still the East Roman Empire, and beyond into Germania and Persia and everywhere Christianity spread.

One person making an embellishment to one copy doesn't affect all the others, especially the tons of Greek copies.

Re: [S.T.O.R.Y. 4/7/02] This dojo was built by Time Lords

PostPosted: Wed Nov 19, 2008 9:00 pm
by Nightranger
nitpicking wrote:
Nightranger wrote:Yeah. It's not too suprising, really. Consider the different languages the Bible has been translated into through the ages. (Muslims actually seem to acknowledge this effect, at least in part; hense, they'll tell you that the Qur'an looses much of it's meaning if translated into a language other than Islam.)

I assume you mean "Arabic".

*facepalms*

Man on the Moon wrote:
Nightranger wrote:And how for some time it was copied by hand each time. And, at any step in this process, the possibility of some creative person adding "imbellishments" or "interpretation" to it.


You speak like there was only one copy of the Bible. Thousands of copies spread over all of what had been the West Roman Empire, what was still the East Roman Empire, and beyond into Germania and Persia and everywhere Christianity spread.

One person making an embellishment to one copy doesn't affect all the others, especially the tons of Greek copies.

Yes, there were lots of copies, and most of them were probably slightly to signifigantly different from each other.

Re: [S.T.O.R.Y. 4/7/02] This dojo was built by Time Lords

PostPosted: Wed Nov 19, 2008 9:07 pm
by vampiress_kat
... So, in the course of two pages, this topic has gone from Dojo = Tardis to a discussion about how religion and war relate to each other. Is this a record in derailment history?
(Stuff like carrot..? doesn't count - that didn't have a topic in the first place.)

Re: [S.T.O.R.Y. 4/7/02] This dojo was built by Time Lords

PostPosted: Wed Nov 19, 2008 9:25 pm
by Nightranger
Well, there was that one thread Dan started about his chair being broken...

Re: [S.T.O.R.Y. 4/7/02] This dojo was built by Time Lords

PostPosted: Wed Nov 19, 2008 10:00 pm
by Chaos Priest
vampiress_kat wrote:... So, in the course of two pages, this topic has gone from Dojo = Tardis to a discussion about how religion and war relate to each other. Is this a record in derailment history?
(Stuff like carrot..? doesn't count - that didn't have a topic in the first place.)

I wouldn't say it went that far off topic. The first post did have a paragraph on Justin's religious beliefs, so the general subject of religion was there.

Re: [S.T.O.R.Y. 4/7/02] This dojo was built by Time Lords

PostPosted: Wed Nov 19, 2008 10:15 pm
by Tarvok
Nightranger wrote:To elaborate, there's a passage in the Qur’an that refers to Jews, Christians, and Muslims as "People of the Book"--since all three religions basically share the same god, the same origins, and many of the same beliefs--and it also instructs fallowers to have peaceful relations with the other two religions. (Osama must have missed the memo)


Has any of Osama's rhetoric been anti-Christian or specifically anti-Jew? (I'll want to quibble as to whether a given set of rhetoric is generally anti-Jew or more specifically anti-colonialist/Zionist.) I was under the impression that he's mainly a political radical, in opposition to the more brutal secular dictatorships in the middle east, who "declared war" on America on account of the role the American government plays in the establishment and maintenance of said dictatorships.

Re: [S.T.O.R.Y. 4/7/02] This dojo was built by Time Lords

PostPosted: Wed Nov 19, 2008 10:35 pm
by nitpicking
For many, many examples of inconsistencies in Greek manuscripts of the various Christian Bible books, see the above-mentioned Misquoting Jesus. For one dramatic example, there's a famous passage in one of Paul's letters where he suddenly starts saying that women should be silent in church and save their questions to ask their husbands later.

He didn't write it, as far as scholars can tell. It's a marginal comment that a later scribe accidentally merged into the actual text of the letter. In other letters, Paul directly asks women to speak in church (notably to read that very letter to the congregation!) and refers to a woman as having his own rank, "First among the disciples".


Note to my fellow nitpickers: I'm well aware that "Bible books" is redundant, since Bible is from the Greek biblios, book.

Re: [S.T.O.R.Y. 4/7/02] This dojo was built by Time Lords

PostPosted: Thu Nov 20, 2008 2:16 am
by Raging Mouse
nitpicking wrote:Note to my fellow nitpickers: I'm well aware that "Bible books" is redundant, since Bible is from the Greek biblios, book.


On the contrary, my dear nitpicker, you earn kudos for being precise. It's not your fault whoever named the christian holy text had no imagination and the totalitarianness of any dictator you care to name.

Re: [S.T.O.R.Y. 4/7/02] This dojo was built by Time Lords

PostPosted: Thu Nov 20, 2008 4:52 am
by Dragonstar
Many religions have been corrupted by the negative aspects of culture and politics, and, then, the religion often gets the blame for the effects of said corruption. Most of the differences between the sects within single religions have resulted from this corruption as well. The most famous of these splits is probably the Reformation (primarily, over political corruption), but the split between Catholic and Orthodox churches (and within the Orthodox chruch), various sects of Judaism, and the Shiite/Sunni split in Islam fall into this.

Re: [S.T.O.R.Y. 4/7/02] This dojo was built by Time Lords

PostPosted: Thu Nov 20, 2008 9:11 am
by Bickendan
vampiress_kat wrote:... So, in the course of two pages, this topic has gone from Dojo = Tardis to a discussion about how religion and war relate to each other. Is this a record in derailment history?
(Stuff like carrot..? doesn't count - that didn't have a topic in the first place.)

Nah. I've seen threads with specific topics at other boards get derailed within five posts. This smiley got made as a result: Image