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View Diary: Atheist Digest '10: Debunking Dogmas, Part I: Creationism (211 comments)

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  •  adversity (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    SciMathGuy, XNeeOhCon, Joieau

    As you are probably aware "Satan" means adversary in Hebrew, and at the outset of the story God and Satan are shown to be buddies making gentlemen's bets on the outcome of Satan's "testing" of Job. The concept of Satan later devolved to the external "Devil" who "made me do it" excuse for human frailties. Elaine Pagels wrote a book about this devolution.  My take on this book is that Satan is a personalization of the forces of adversity and it is a teaching on how to handle adversity.

    •  I must admit I've (1+ / 0-)
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      wilderness voice

      never actually bought and read any of Elaine Pagels' books, but I know of them and have read lengthy reviews and criticisms, and suspect I'd like them a lot. Maybe one of these days I'll find some of her books in the bargain bin outside the Little Switzerland (or Montreat, or Junaluska, or Ridgecrest) used book stores. Like I found a 2-volume original edition set of Riehold Neibuhr's "The Nature and Destiny of Man" and eagerly bought 'em both for a mere $100. and the 1965 annual compilation of Jung's Eranos Society, "The Mystic Vision." You just never know what might turn up around here, where there's more theologians per square mile than any other place in the world... ;-)

      But I CAN say with time-honored enthusiasm that I was and still am a great fan of Pagels' husband Heinz, who tragically died climbing a mountain when most of us fans were eagerly awaiting his further findings about the nature of the universe he loved so much.

      Now, more than ever, we need the Jedi.

      by Joieau on Wed Aug 18, 2010 at 02:16:07 PM PDT

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    •  And to respond to your post... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      XNeeOhCon

      Yes, I knew that. It would tempt me to assign the 'adversary' role to the god, but the text is clearly dichotomous. Probably Zoroastrian in origination, that influence is clearly felt from the Babylonian exile forward.

      You are traveling in the right vein, I think, to suggest these are personifications of natural forces and purely human dirty deeds. We are all (and always) at the mercy of nature and our fellow (hu)man beings. Forces primal and forces intelligent that we must deal with during the course of our lives (if our lives are long enough to allow for anything but suffering and death). Nature was apparently not bad-ass enough for us. We had to turn on each other and make it worse.

      We are some crazy critters, that's for sure! Deal is that for all our considerable shortcomings, we're the smartest thing going on this planet. We can build a planet to our own design, and we can destroy it over time or simply blow it away in seconds. There are billions of us, we're a lot bigger than beetles.

      I've seen some research speculation that there's an inherent schitzo-like circuit in our brains that makes us crazy in a spiritual way - the believing that something 'More' is going on than we normally perceive. Though I am not at all sure the researchers have established or even begun to try to establish that the capacity is in any way aberrant, or proves that the innate ability to plug in to something 'More' could realistically be considered a mental 'illness'. They just pronounce it with their sentence structure as if it's not a question at all. I certainly question it.

      The greatest value I've ever drawn in my life from the Book of Job is what It reminded me of (I'm synesthetic, different words were highlighted at different crises in my life) when my only son bled to death in my arms in the middle of the night. At the ripe old age of 21. There are times when the curveballs life throws your way are so noxious that it's really very easy to fall into the pit of cursing at god/gods for the sheer horror of it all. No one's there to save you, make you feel better, make reality go away. The adversary is front and center in all the authorities playing their parts. You're on your own.

      Then the idea that one can - Job did it! - best god/gods at his/her/its/their own game, becomes a Saving Grace. Though I guess you'd have to know what Saving Grace is and feels like before you could fairly parse the thought. Sorry.

      Now, more than ever, we need the Jedi.

      by Joieau on Wed Aug 18, 2010 at 04:07:39 PM PDT

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      •  No, I am the one that is sorry (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        XNeeOhCon, Joieau

        to hear about your son.  Tears for thee.

        My take on Job is not that he bested the gods but that his victory was in merely not cursing them.

        •  I kinda view it (0+ / 0-)

          as I viewed my "Great Awakening" back during the Cuban Missile Crisis. 6th grade, rural upstate New York. I was the only 'military brat' in the class, Dad (we called him The Commander) had recently retired. A new boy came into class, an Army brat who had been evacuated from Gitmo with his Mom at the start of the crisis. First time we were ever allowed to watch television all day instead of do school work - everybody just knew we were all going to die, including my father, my new friend's father, all our parents and teachers. Everybody.

          My new friend and I were somewhat bemused by all this, never really thought for a moment they were really going to blow us all to hell because they couldn't make any money at it. But... but if they did decide to do it, we decided we'd prefer to be right there in the middle of the bullseye so we could kiss that sucker on the way down. Drop it or stay at home, don't just play around endlessly with people's fears! Turned me hard against manufactured fear, and has served me well ever since.

          Some things in life truly are very, very scary. A parent's worst nightmare, the one you push hard out of your mind when all the day to day worries start piling up. Is there enough money to pay the mortgage? To buy food? To pay the bills? What if my kids don't get into college? What if they get into real trouble? Once you've faced your worst fears up close and uncomfortable as hell, nothing seems all that scary anymore. It's all gravy.

          Now, more than ever, we need the Jedi.

          by Joieau on Thu Aug 19, 2010 at 03:01:09 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

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