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lozerfac3
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lozerfac3
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Farmer

I have really enjoyed talking about religion and philosophy with everyone on this site. But I guess that's obvious by how many times I've tried to resurrect a conversation on the WEPR forums. Here we go again lol

This time, I want to do things a little differently. Instead of arguing about the most logical beliefs and attacking each others' flaws, I think we should pull all our collective knowledge and mental power together to find the answer to life, the universe, and everything.

After years of subscribing to religious beliefs fed to me at church, I feel like I'm at a disadvantage compared to many atheists here on this site who have independently researched and ultimately pondered for themselves the meaning to life and what it means to be good. I'm not sure if it was this whole pandemic era or what, but I have learned a ton about just humanity in general. Part of that was learning that many of the beliefs that I took for granted were actually based on very old misunderstandings of religious texts and centuries of manipulated traditions. I know that you guys have been telling this to me for years, but I was just too prideful and young to listen.

That being said, I still hold immense value in the Bible as a literary work that's rich in meaning and beauty and wisdom. Even though translations are rough and the history surrounding the sources' are doubtful, I believe that there is so much to learn from reading it. I still believe in God and Jesus, but the way I understand his existence is a little (yet significantly) different from a couple years ago. The way I understand human relationships and love and life is so much different. If you don't believe in God the way I do, I appreciate your views so much. You don't have to study the Bible or go to church in order to come to the same conclusions I do about what's good and morally right. In fact, much of what I have learned was confirmed by podcasts and videos from people of varying beliefs and backgrounds. Moreover, I don't claim to have all the answers. I might be wrong about a lot of things, but I'm still learning and growing.

School is starting up again in a couple days for me, so I won't be able to keep up as much I probably hope, but I invite you guys to participate in a new kind of "religion debate thread" with me. I hope this one maintains a healthy debate style, but my main goal is that we slowly but steadily learn more about the world around us and how to navigate life. I want to learn more from you guys because I hold incredible amounts of value in your opinions and knowledge.

So let's start with a few questions. How valuable are stories in the shaping of our lives? What books, movies, other media have you digested that has impacted you in the past year? Do you have any personal stories that you are willing to disclose that you think might benefit us? Are there any stories that you need help interpreting whether personal or fictional or whatever? (These last two we might have to warm up for lol but if you feel the desire to share, please do. We are all listening.)

Edit: This post has been on my heart for a while now, and I just gained courage enough to post it. I haven't been active very much though. But just looking through the Forums, it really seems like it's dying :/ But I'm still here! I'll be checking the Forums from time to time in case happens to reply haha

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HahiHa
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HahiHa
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Concerning stories, they're invaluable to our lives. Humanity has told stories since we could talk, and oral traditions predate written records by, like.... a lot. Stories are what gave birth to legends, myths, and eventually religion. The problem with religion (one of many ) once it's written down, is that it becomes static, which on one hand makes it an invaluable resource for archaeologists etc., but also means it stops being a reflection of our current day and age, and has to be constantly reinterpreted. Which gets increasingly problematic the more specific a text is. This is not to say that certain general ideas wouldn't still be relevant today of course; people today and back then are fundamentally the same. Societies, on the other hand, do change.

As for myself... I don't know if it counts, but I've started playing DnD with a group of friends not long ago, and what is a TTRPG if not a way to experience and tell each other stories? And aside from the mindless fun you can have while playing any TTRPG, acting as a character sometimes makes me think of how I would have acted in the same situation, gives me an occasion for a bit of introspection. It can also show you how different people engage differently with the same story, and with each other while playing, if you pay attention to it. It's really neat.

lozerfac3
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lozerfac3
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Farmer

Mannn I've always wanted to play DnD but none of my friends have the time. I'm curious, when you tell stories in this type of format, are there literary foundations like an overarching plot, themes, or lessons you can identify upon deep analysis? Or is it purely for fun? Because I agree for the most part. Society changes, but humans are essentially the same. So I'm wondering if the stories you guys come up with have tropes that you might see in existing literature.

What's your favorite quest you've played through so far?

HahiHa
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HahiHa
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@lozerfac3 I'm really sorry about this very late reply, I didn't mean to leave you hanging like that! My apologies.

Yes, there are definitely literary foundations to the stories we're using, whether it's official content like campaign books or entirely home-made stuff. It's not always a conscious decision, but it's very difficult to come up with story beats that have never or rarely been done before. Also, it's usually in a fantasy context and a lot of the typical fantasy tropes can be traced back to a few sources, like Tolkien's Hobbit and Lord of the Rings. Which are in turn heavily inspired by Scandinavian and Old English legends, poems and such. So while e.g. the campaign we're playing currently was written entirely by the DM specifically for this game, I can still recognize certain tropes and themes in it.

Also, we're mostly playing just for fun, really. There is no intended lesson, at least not in the games we're playing; not that it's never done at all, but I think it's difficult for a DM to design a story with an obvious lesson without coming across as moralising too much. It's more probable that the players take home their own lessons from engaging with the story and each other, and the DM can certainly affect this in the way they design the world and the NPCs. Now that I think of it, I guess most stories, even when written just for fun, will carry a few small hidden 'lessons' in them anyway?

lozerfac3
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lozerfac3
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Farmer

No worries! Thanks for tagging me.

Now that I think of it, I guess most stories, even when written just for fun, will carry a few small hidden 'lessons' in them anyway?

I think so. Even if the author didn't intend for any lesson, I think they still craft their stories based on their understanding of the world around them. With the fantasy genre, it might be a divergence from the author's understanding of the real world.

Is it safe to say then that fantasy stories strive for an ideal world that the author would rather live in?

HahiHa
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HahiHa
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Ideal worlds are boring No but really, one of the strong points of fantasy and even science fiction is that they have the potential to create more exciting settings for stories since you're not bound to the real world. There's an element of escapism to it, but it also gives the author the option to explore concepts and ideas differently. I'm sure the core story tropes are basically the same as in every other genre, but unfamiliarity (such as can be introduced by magic, or far-future technological advancements) can help to subvert or get rid of preconceived assumptions or expectations, get a different angle on things.

lozerfac3
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lozerfac3
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Farmer

Right. Fiction is a great way to explore the world without having to actually interact with it and deal with the consequences. I think that's why we are drawn to certain genres. I also think that stories, in turn, shape the way we think about the world. It's why the same story patterns show up again and again in our culture.

Stories are what gave birth to legends, myths, and eventually religion. The problem with religion (one of many) once it's written down, is that it becomes static, which on one hand makes it an invaluable resource for archaeologists etc., but also means it stops being a reflection of our current day and age, and has to be constantly reinterpreted. Which gets increasingly problematic the more specific a text is. This is not to say that certain general ideas wouldn't still be relevant today of course; people today and back then are fundamentally the same. Societies, on the other hand, do change.

I wanted to get back to this quote because I mostly agree with you about religious stories being static, and about how they won't be able to implemented in every culture without serious compromises, but I just wanted to unpack everything because you said there is a problem. I want to get to the bottom of what this problem is. I think first, we should establish what type of religious writing are you talking about. For example, the Bible is written in several different genres, but they all serve the purpose of preserving a certain religion. Which writings present a problem to society specifically? Also why is it a greater problem if the text is more specific?

HahiHa
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HahiHa
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I want to get to the bottom of what this problem is. I think first, we should establish what type of religious writing are you talking about. For example, the Bible is written in several different genres, but they all serve the purpose of preserving a certain religion.

Mostly the kind of religious writing that serves as laws, moral compass and codes of conduct. But creation myths also become part of the problem if taken by the letter.
The problem, on one hand, is with how the world is portrayed in those writings versus how it actually is according to our most recent knowledge. The biblical creation narrative is a good example, as it represents how some people back then explained our world and its conception, based on the Hebrew Bible, itself an adaptation of Mesopotamian creation myths. And correct me if I'm wrong, but even later entries in the Bible 'corrected' this worldview by implementing Greek models of a spherical Earth surrounded by outer layers. Writings like these become problematic when still taken literally today, for obvious reasons. It is also why more specific passages are more problematic, because they offer less leeway for interpretation, and are also more easily challenged and thus more conflict-laden.
Laws on morality and behaviour are also problematic because those things tend to change with time. Many passages are harmless, for one reason: religious morals are, in my opinion, always special cases of secular morals, meaning they contain things everyone agrees are good/bad, and in addition things only a particular confession thinks are good/bad. For instance, most people agree that stealing and killing are bad, even though the reasoning (and corresponding penalty) might differ; and yet people can't stop arguing about which animal is considered "impure" or what method of preparation should be used or avoided.
lozerfac3
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lozerfac3
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Farmer

they all serve the purpose of preserving a certain religion.

I just wanted to correct what I meant by this. I don't think that all of the religion is preserved, but rather the spirit of the religion is preserved. Worshippers in the New Testament weren't as concerned about ceremonial purity as the early Israelites were in Leviticus and Numbers for example.

Writings like these become problematic when still taken literally today, for obvious reasons. It is also why more specific passages are more problematic, because they offer less leeway for interpretation, and are also more easily challenged and thus more conflict-laden.

Right. There's no logical reason you should believe that the Earth is a certain way if it conflicts with what we know about the Earth based on our more advanced methods of study. So what if we take these stories for what they're worth? They were written in a time with very different social customs with a more limited understanding of the world. Can we still find important truths about the world, about humans, animals, relationships, God, spirits, etc.? In my opinion, if we disregard the teachings of the Bible completely just because they were written by people from a different culture, then we are missing out on important truths. I believe it would help us become better people, but people gotta realize (especially religious people) that the Bible wasn't written in the context of our culture and that many ideas in the Bible are meant to be seen as symbols rather than literal categories.

For instance, most people agree that stealing and killing are bad, even though the reasoning (and corresponding penalty) might differ; and yet people can't stop arguing about which animal is considered "impure" or what method of preparation should be used or avoided.

Yeah I think that arguing about those things is unhelpful lol. What do you think we should be focusing our energy on instead?

HahiHa
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HahiHa
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@lozerfac3

Can we still find important truths about the world, about humans, animals, relationships, God, spirits, etc.? In my opinion, if we disregard the teachings of the Bible completely just because they were written by people from a different culture, then we are missing out on important truths.

We may all find points of interest in those stories, as we may in stories from any culture. Confronting ourselves with those stories can help us understand ourselves better, whether we agree or disagree with the morals they convey.
Still, what kind of truth would you suggest we can get from biblical stories and nowhere else? What kind of teachings do other cultures miss out on according to you?

I believe it would help us become better people, but people gotta realize (especially religious people) that the Bible wasn't written in the context of our culture and that many ideas in the Bible are meant to be seen as symbols rather than literal categories.

Even then certain symbols are outdated. For example, Eve having been created out of one of Adam's ribs. Even if we take it as a symbol, that symbol is the inferiority of women to men. Later in the same story, the incident with the apple is its own can of worms. All of this in one of the foundational myths of Christianity.
saint_of_gaming
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saint_of_gaming
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Nomad

This relates to the philisophical question of whether humanity is all good (Roseau), all bad (Calvin and Hobbes ), or somewhere in between (St. Augustine). Personally, some sort of middle position seems most reasonable to me; specifically if humans are all good why does such terrible stuth happen on the news, and if we are all bad why don't we live in a hellish world worse than the Qanon conspiracy theory? Of course, one might not like how the story is formulated (Is there an original sin? Why does God make it hereditary etc.?) but the core question the story of the fall of Adam and Eve is trying to answer is why does humanity seem so messed up sometimes? Also, the Bible never mentions an apple specifically it just says "fruit" although this is just a minor fact checking point.

HahiHa
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@saint_of_gaming
On that topic I like a quote by Albert Camus in his novel The Plague:
"The evil that is in the world almost always comes of ignorance, and good intentions may do as much harm as malevolence, if they lack understanding. On the whole, men are more good than bad; that, however, isn't the real point, but they are more or less ignorant, and it is this that we call vice or virtue; the most incorrigible vice being that of an ignorance that fancies it knows everything and therefore claims for itself the right to kill. The soul of the murderer is blind; and there can be no true goodness nor true love without the utmost clear-sightedness."

Why does God make it hereditary etc.?

I wonder if this is in any way or form related to those curses one sometimes finds in stories that affect not just a person but all their offspring down to the Xth generation (often the seventh, at least that is the number that comes to my mind).
saint_of_gaming
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I also like the game Age of War 2 on dealing with the subject of evil. Its has one of the best stories on this site plus its one of the few games that worked without glitches for me on Ruffle. (Gamewise its interesting at first, but then you basically have to employ the spam the archers strategy as it becomes progressively more difficult.) It progresses through the stages of evil relatively like the Inferno or something like that, but it takes a somewhat different path. Its stages are desert, march to the city, battle with the elves, battle with the rebellious duke, and hell, and the evils corresponding to them are blind loyalty (in this case to ones parents), wanton military cruelty (total war as in the game series by the same name), envy, psychotic cracking up (evil madness that just doesn't make sense anymore), and finally at the bottom of it all the lust for power "There is only I.". Regarding your second question its more theological; while I'd be happy to talk to you about theology be warned that it is more creative than philosophy and does not require proof (at least to the inductive level of common sense). E.G. Adam's rib was removed not only for the more obvious allegorical connotation that the Church is the body of Christ (Why are you persecuting me? etc.) but also that St. Losengius (or whatever his name was) might "heartshot" Christ on the Cross (the icon of Divine Mercy etc.).

lozerfac3
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lozerfac3
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Farmer

@HahiHa

Still, what kind of truth would you suggest we can get from biblical stories and nowhere else? What kind of teachings do other cultures miss out on according to you?

I don't think the Bible is the only source of these important ideas. I believe that other cultures can come to beautiful conclusions about how to live life, how to treat others, etc. My point was that the Bible also comes to those conclusions, but people tend to use the Bible to support their own preconceived ideas. To be fair, it's hard not to. The Bible is hard to read because it's not written like modern literature. People don't understand that it's meditation literature; it takes multiple readings over the course of years to pull full meaning from it.

Even then certain symbols are outdated. For example, Eve having been created out of one of Adam's ribs. Even if we take it as a symbol, that symbol is the inferiority of women to men. Later in the same story, the incident with the apple is its own can of worms. All of this in one of the foundational myths of Christianity.

That's true, but that's only the surface level of interpreting the symbol. In order to pull the most meaning from this narrative, you need to take into account what the rest of the Bible is saying. In 1 Corinthians 11, Paul says "woman is the glory of man. For man does not originate from woman, but woman from man; for indeed man was not created for the woman's sake, but woman for the man's sake. Therefore the woman should have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels." Yikes. This is a bold claim. For one, he is obviously referencing the creation narrative and two, he is appealing to religious senses, the angels who are cosmic beings who were there in the Beginning. It's easy to read this and say men have every right to control women. But, immediately after, he continues "However, in the Lord, neither is woman independent of man, nor is man independent of woman. For as the woman originated from the man, so also the man has his birth through the woman; and all things originate from God." Who's your daddy now? Paul wants men to know that men need women just as much as women need men. They are a team. One cannot exist without the other. Respect women who have been given the pain of childbirth. Then, the ultimate stinger: you all originate from God. If women are under authority of men on the basis that they originate from men, then we are all under the authority of God. Basically telling all sexists to humble themselves.

On that topic I like a quote by Albert Camus in his novel The Plague

See, that's beautiful. Wonderfully written and it touches on a root cause of evil. Do you believe that there is an antidote to ignorance?

@saint_of_gaming

Welcome to the conversation. We're glad to have your input.

but the core question the story of the fall of Adam and Eve is trying to answer is why does humanity seem so messed up sometimes? Also, the Bible never mentions an apple specifically it just says "fruit" although this is just a minor fact checking point.

All true.

Adam's rib was removed not only for the more obvious allegorical connotation that the Church is the body of Christ (Why are you persecuting me? etc.) but also that St. Losengius (or whatever his name was) might "heartshot" Christ on the Cross (the icon of Divine Mercy etc.).

This comparison is new to me, but it is super interesting. I'm assuming "Why are you persecuting me?" comes from Paul's conversion story. What does this quote have to do with Adam's rib? I understand that the Bible makes it clear that the Church is the body of Christ, but how does it relate?

And after a quick search, St. Longinus was the Roman soldier who pierced Jesus in the side to make the final blow. Here, I can see where you can connect the image of Adam's rib, but what bearing does this have theologically?

saint_of_gaming
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saint_of_gaming
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Nomad

To lozerfac3:
Thank you so much for starting this thread. I feel like social gaming media gives us a much better opportunity to talk about life's more important questions than regular social media because 1. we all share at least one thing in common and 2. there seem to be a lot less trolls here.
Having said that I will speak to you in a more theological way than I do to HahiHa since your posts seem to indicate that you were raised in a Christian family of some sort.
"What does this quote have to do with Adam's rib? I understand that the Bible makes it clear that the Church is the body of Christ, but how does it relate?"
Unfortunately, I can't claim originality on this one; this interpretation goes back at least to St. Augustine and even to as early as St. Paul himself (Eph 5:31-32). Specifically, I was delving into the allegorical sense of Scripture (c.f. Catechism of the Catholic Church 117.1) in response to HahiHa's objection of sexist language in the Bible. As to your first questions, Eve's body IS Adam's body just like Christ's Body IS his Church. (Yes I know he's got some EXTREMELY heavy duty cleanup work before "he might present himself to the church in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing" (Eph 5:27), but God knows how to handle this even if the process isn't pretty. "He'll zap you any way he can." just like that one Youtube video says .) On a more technical level, they are still two different persons, but they are one in conjugal union (c.f. CCC 796).
"Here, I can see where you can connect the image of Adam's rib, but what bearing does this have theologically?"
This was my own original (as least as far as I know, I've never heard of it anywhere else) effort to answer the question "Why Adam's rib as opposed to some other part of his body?". My interpretation here was that it is the corresponding mystical conjugal union between Christ and his Church that enables the extension of Divine Mercy unto humanity, as symbolized by that beautiful image in St. John's Gospel (Jn 19:34).

lozerfac3
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lozerfac3
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Farmer

@saint_of_gaming

Thank you so much for starting this thread. I feel like social gaming media gives us a much better opportunity to talk about life's more important questions than regular social media because 1. we all share at least one thing in common and 2. there seem to be a lot less trolls here.
Having said that I will speak to you in a more theological way than I do to HahiHa since your posts seem to indicate that you were raised in a Christian family of some sort.

No yeah for sure. I was thinking about starting a conversation on Twitter, but I realized that would have been a disaster LOL.

Unfortunately, I can't claim originality on this one; this interpretation goes back at least to St. Augustine and even to as early as St. Paul himself (Eph 5:31-32).

Ohh right gotchu. When God asks "Why are you persecuting me?" he is referring to Paul's executing of Christians. So when you persecuting Christians, you are persecuting God.

Yes I know he's got some EXTREMELY heavy duty cleanup work before "he might present himself to the church in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing" (Eph 5:27), but God knows how to handle this even if the process isn't pretty. "He'll zap you any way he can."

In your view, what kind of clean up work does God do?

My interpretation here was that it is the corresponding mystical conjugal union between Christ and his Church that enables the extension of Divine Mercy unto humanity, as symbolized by that beautiful image in St. John's Gospel (Jn 19:34).

Your explanation seems promising, but I'm a little lost. Do you mind describing the symbol of that image and how it relates to our union with God?

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