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Thursday,December 19,2002

As reported in the Gospels, the Jews accused Jesus of claiming to be God. Jesus denied it.

Being one with His Father meant that Jesus conformed to the Will of God, not that He was the divine Essence. Anthropomorphism is never taught in the books of the New Testament.

Jesus was the Representation, the Manifestation, of God. In other words, He reflected the Godhead like a pure mirror. However, Jesus was not the divine Essence. How can God pray to God?

IMO, this explanation makes more sense than the conventional trinitarian explanation, which flies in the face of everything taught in both the Old and New Testaments.

posted at 03:57:09 AM by Dr. Mark A. Foster

Wednesday,December 18,2002

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I did not invent the question.

I was asking RickA who has demonstrated more knowledge about the subject than you are I. I have read in the bible somewhere that 1/3 of the worlds population would be destroyed in the battle.

Do you know the answer?

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Here is one of the texts you are referring to, yes. However, there is no reference to Muslims. I suppose it could be interpreted as being one-half, or perhaps it is metaphorical:

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34 I tell you, in that night there shall be two men in one bed; the one shall be taken, and the other shall be left.

35 Two women shall be grinding together; the one shall be taken, and the other left.

36 Two men shall be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left.

37 And they answered and said unto him, Where, Lord? And he said unto them, Wheresoever the body is, thither will the eagles be gathered together.

--- Luke 17

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And here is one pointing to one-third:

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15 And the four angels were loosed, which were prepared for an hour, and a day, and a month, and a year, for to slay the third part of men.

16 And the number of the army of the horsemen were two hundred thousand thousand: and I heard the number of them.

17 And thus I saw the horses in the vision, and them that sat on them, having breastplates of fire, and of jacinth, and brimstone: and the heads of the horses were as the heads of lions; and out of their mouths issued fire and smoke and brimstone.

18 By these three was the third part of men killed, by the fire, and by the smoke, and by the brimstone, which issued out of their mouths.

19 For their power is in their mouth, and in their tails: for their tails were like unto serpents, and had heads, and with them they do hurt.

20 And the rest of the men which were not killed by these plagues yet repented not of the works of their hands, that they should not worship devils, and idols of gold, and silver, and brass, and stone, and of wood: which neither can see, nor hear, nor walk:

21 Neither repented they of their murders, nor of their sorceries, nor of their fornication, nor of their thefts.

--- Revelation 9

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Another thing I apologize if I have offended your delicate sensibilities regarding the use of my sarcasim, I do it for fun.

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I am concerned about your having offended others. I am not a Muslim.

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But I don't think it is anymore offensive than your holding for your own personal gratification, a self image of elitism!

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If you knew me, Mike, you would never call me an elitist. I have a reputation among my friends and colleagues as an egalitarian.


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In your estimation, is it the muhammadans who are eradicated in the referenced death of one third of the worlds population?

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While I am not a Muslim, that strikes me as an unnecessarily callous statement, though I would imagine you have thought up some way to justify it.

I would like to suggest to you, to myself, and to everyone else that there will come a time when each of us will stand before the Creator of the universe. He will judge our deeds and, in His justice and mercy, He will compensate us accordingly.

One of the factors, I believe, that will be taken into consideration, perhaps the major one, will be how we have treated our fellow humans, especially in settings such as this one, where, if we wish to, we can choose to be anonymous. It is much more difficult to treat people poorly when they are standing directly in front of us than here in cyberspace.

What would Jesus do?

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I think Jesus would stop judging and answer the question.

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Well, you are changing the subject. I did not mention the question you asked. I am referring to your comment which implies some sort of heavenly genocide. As I said, that strikes me as highly judgmental.

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What do you think he would do?

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I believe that Jesus would call people to follow Him and condemn those who do evil, as is reported of Him in the Gospels. I don't remember Him ever singling out an entire religious population for extermination.

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What would your prophet of Bahai do?

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In my view, He would do just what I wrote about Jesus. IMO, Jesus, Muhammad, and Baha'u'llah are all animated by the same Holy Spirit.


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Throughout the history of mankind religion normally gravitates toward the values embraced by that particular society.

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Yes. Personally, I make a distinction between Revelation (what is actually revealed by the Prophet in a particular social context) and religion (what humans take from that Revelation and relate to their own societies and cultures).

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And this is determined to some extent by the political elements of the existing governments.

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I think that is sometimes true. Usually, however, it is the religious clerics (priests, ministers, rabbis, mullas, shaykhs, etc.) who determine the face of a religion. Even in modern, literate societies, most people are sheep, not shepherds, and follow whatever the leader says.

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But the spiritual aspect of Christianity is drawn from above in Christ and the gates of hell will not prevail against it!

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IMO, what most of the major religious traditions have in common is that, in their spiritual aspects, one finds a connection between humans, on the one hand, and the Wholly Other or Sacred Center, on the other. The basis of that connection is the cultivation of spiritual virtues. The forms differ, but the spirit is one.

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The promises of God never fail and His promise in Christ is sure. This is my humble belief!

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I respect your viewpoint and the manner in which you express it.

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You are probably just in the habit of having absolute control over steering the thinking of your students, and feeling like something is wrong with a free forum.

No offense taken, I understand it to be typical leftist thinking (controlling) or attempting to control the society.

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I understand, too. When people are unable to provide a rational response, they engage in ad hominem.


The text most commonly cited by premillennialists as proof for the rapture is this one:

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13 But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.

14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.

15 For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.

16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:

17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.

18 Wherefore comfort one another with these words.

--- I Thessalonians 4

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In other words, the standard raised by the Prophet in each age becomes the basis for judging humanity and the ultimate rewards and punishments each of us receive.

Furthermore, amillennialists, postmillennialists, and preterists, who, collectively, represent the majority of Christians in the world, usually interpret "air" as a reference to "heaven" (both of which are generally regarded as metaphors for the the afterlife).

Actually, why would "air" mean anything else but heaven? To view "heaven" as a spiritual world, while interpreting "air" as the literal sky seems a bit inconsistent to me. Both terms seem to clearly point to the next world.


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Clearly,that passage in Jeremiah 10 is talking about building Idols and calling them GOD

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The context of my comments was the pagan background of Christmas, not whether adherents of certain Christianities should commemorate it.

Not only Christmas (almost all of the symbols associated with the holiday), but Easter (based on an ancient fertility festival), the church steeple and the crucifix (both phallic symbols), the Trinity (i.e., Zeus, Athena, and Apollo), incarnationism (the mating of gods, Zeus in particular, with humans to produce offspring), etc. are, to varying degrees, of pagan origin.

I am not a Christian, so this subject is not an issue for me. The reason I point it out is because evangelicals and fundamentalists frequently claim that all their beliefs and praxes (practices) are biblically based. IMO, that is not true.

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I am confident that the reason for celebrating was from the heart. Not as you have stated,"christian leaders who were eager to find ways to make Christianity more attractive"

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Many evangelical and fundamentalist leaders, including the late Walter Martin (Kingdom of the Cults), have made the point that certain "Christian" practices were adopted in order to appeal to the masses. However, they saw nothing wrong with it.

posted at 03:53:47 AM by Dr. Mark A. Foster

Tuesday,December 17,2002

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Any religion in it's very true colors cannot live very long without being in true alignment with the spirit of the Word of God.
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Do you then accept the legitimacy of Santana Dharma ("Hinduism"), Buddhism, Jainism, and Zoroastrianism? All of these religious traditions have been around for thousands of years, longer than either Christianity, Islam, or, my own religious group, the Baha'i Faith.

I would question whether the longevity of a particular religious system is a useful measure of its truth content.

Roman Catholicism has been around longer than Quakerism. However, I see more truth in Hicksite Quakerism than in Roman Catholicism. The Ganapatya (a Hindu sect) has been around much longer than Sri Ramakrishna and Sri Vivekananda's Vedanta Society. However, I find Ramakrishna's teachings to be more truth-filled than the Ganapatya.


There is no such thing as religious fundamentalism. There are various fundamentalisms, which can properly be understood only in the context of particular religious traditions.

The term "fundamentalism" is really just a convenient shorthand for the tension that many religious literalists experience with modernity, secularism, or pluralism. Thus, the radical Islamists in al-Qa'ida find Western secularism objectionable; and many Christian fundamentalists object to the secularism of evolution, the prohibition against prayer in public schools, etc.

The fundamentalisms are reactionary movements, largely driven by a collectivization of fear, and they are at the heart of many of the culture wars being waged in the modern world. Fundamentalists are responding, defensively or offensively, to what they regard as the desacralization, the elimination of the sacred, of their societies.


From a nominalist (or particularist) standpoint, which is my methodological preference, there is no such thing as "Islam." Likewise, there is no such thing, in an absolute sense, as "Christianity," as "Judaism," as "the Baha'i Faith." There are different Islams, Christianities, Judaisms, and Baha'i Faiths.

To say that "Islam" is incompatible with secularism discounts all the religious Muslims living in the Western world who believe in secular, civil societies and who regard them as completely harmonious with the Qur'an and its teachings on tolerance.

The other day, I posted a link to this site:

http://www.submission.org/islam/usa.html

In it, the writer argues, among other things, "An obvious conclusion cannot escape us - USA as a society and as a nation practices God's laws as laid out in the Quran, more so, than any other nation in the world." Personally, I do not have the same positive view of U.S. policies. However, at least it indicates that Muslims are not of a single mind on this issue.

I have collected links to various liberal Islamic sites on this page:

http://www.markfoster.net/jccc/liberalislam.html

Some of these sites are purely secular (i.e., humanistic). Others advocate committed Muslims living in secular, pluralitic societies.


Nowhere do any of the New Testament writers ask Christians to celebrate Christ's birthday. There was certainly no tradition of commemorating the birthdays of spiritual figures among Jews (or in the Tanakh).

However, the Romans did have such a tradition. The festival of Saturnalia, which was held on December 25th, celebrated the sun god, Shamash. It was quickly adopted by Christian leaders who were eager to find ways to make Christianity more attractive (more "mainstream") to pagans.

Many of the rituals surrounding the Christmas holiday also have pagan origins. For instance, the Christmas tree was a phallic (penile) symbol. The decorations were indicative of semen. The custom was taken from the worship ceremonies of an ancient fertility cult.

References to the pagan antecedent of the Christmas tree are in the Tanakh, where its use is condemned:

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2 Thus saith the LORD, Learn not the way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for the heathen are dismayed at them. 3 For the customs of the people are vain: for one cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the axe. 4 They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not. 5 They are upright as the palm tree, but speak not: they must needs be borne, because they cannot go. Be not afraid of them; for they cannot do evil, neither also is it in them to do good. --- Jeremiah 10
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The origin of the dogma of the rapture (translation) of the church can be found in the trance channellings of Margaret Macdonald (early 1930s), a fifteen-year-old spiritist (spiritualist) medium from Glasgow, Scotland. Edward Irving, a prominent evangelist and founder of the Catholic Apostolic Church, an indirect nineteenth forerunner of the early twentieth-century pentecostal movement, accepted MacDonald's psychic communications on this subject as valid and brought them into his own theology.

Subsequently, rapture theology was incorporated into premillennialism (technically called, Chiliasm), an early Christian theology condemned as a heresy in 381 C.E. and later revived in the nineteenth century by John Darby (a leader of the Plymouth Brethren). Darby himself investigated, and believed in the legitimacy of, MacDonald's visions.

There are currently three major mutations of premillennialism:

• Pretribulationism: The "pretribs" believe that Christians will be raptured prior to the tribulation (a government under the antichrist and false prophet). Most contemporary neo-evangelicals, partly due to the popularity of Hal Lindsay's The Late, Great, Planet Earth and his other books, accept this flavor of premillennialism.

• Midtribulationism: The "midtribs" believe that the rapture will occur during the tribulation.

• Posttribulationism: The "posttribs" believe that the rapture will happen after the tribulation.

Some references:

www.prophetseye.com/margaret%20macdonald.htm

www.holycross-hermitage.com/pages/Orthodox_Life/rapture1.htm

www.biblicist.org/bible/premil.htm

catchlife.org/edward_irving_charismatic_pioneer.htm

http://www.hallindseyoracle.com/

http://www.preteristarchive.com/dEmEnTiA/tarkowski-ed_dd_01.html


Another passage in which Jesus denies He is on the same level as God, the Essence: 30 I and my Father are one. 31  Then the Jews took up stones again to stone him. 32  Jesus answered them, Many good works have I shewed you from my Father; for which of those works do ye stone me? 33  The Jews answered him, saying, For a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God. 34  Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods? 35  If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken; 36  Say ye of him, whom the Father hath sanctified, and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest; because I said, I am the Son of God? 37  If I do not the works of my Father, believe me not. 38  But if I do, though ye believe not me, believe the works: that ye may know, and believe, that the Father is in me, and I in him. 39  ¶Therefore they sought again to take him: but he escaped out of their hand, 40  And went away again beyond Jordan into the place where John at first baptized; and there he abode. 41  And many resorted unto him, and said, John did no miracle: but all things that John spake of this man were true. 42  And many believed on him there. - John 10

posted at 04:41:00 AM by Dr. Mark A. Foster

Monday,December 16,2002

In the following passage, after the Jews accused Jesus of claiming to be equal with God, Jesus totally rejects their charges.

It is clear from the below (John 5) that Jesus would never have approved of the non-biblical dogma of the Trinity subsequently formulated by the church fathers.

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18 Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he not only had broken the sabbath, but said also that God was his Father, making himself equal with God.

19 Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise.

20 For the Father loveth the Son, and sheweth him all things that himself doeth: and he will shew him greater works than these, that ye may marvel.

21 For as the Father raiseth up the dead, and quickeneth them; even so the Son quickeneth whom he will.

22 For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son:

23 That all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath sent him.

24 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.

25 Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live.

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posted at 06:40:00 PM by Dr. Mark A. Foster

Sunday,December 15,2002

The only group which now has a caliphate is the Qadiani Ahmadiyya, and, of course, they are not regarded as orthodox by most Muslims (including by the Lahori Ahmadiyya). I guess that the Ismaili imamate of the Aga Khan is similar, but the Ismailis are Shi'ih, not Sunni. Also, neither the Qadiani caliph nor the Ismaili imam are heads of state.

It seems to me that, as long as protections are built into a government, to prevent it from degenerating into tyranny, and the people in charge are of good character, it could be a good system.

posted at 04:30:15 AM by Dr. Mark A. Foster

Saturday,December 14,2002

Do you have in mind something along the line of the Prophet Muhammad's 'umma in Medina, in which he entered into treaties with other regional tribes, i.e., guaranteeing them certain rights in exchange for taxation, etc.?

Although I think that the Medinan model was an ideal one for the period, IMO, the various dynasties, with some notable exceptions, rarely measured up to the Prophet's high standards for religious and ethnic tolerance.

I knew a person who was involved with the now defunct khalifornia.org website, and, based on my reading of his Usenet newsgroup postings, he did not come across to me as a very tolerant person. My concern is that a caliphate which was not answerable to its citizens might become easily corrupted.

posted at 07:25:57 PM by Dr. Mark A. Foster

Friday,December 13,2002
First, if prayer is a reliable guide to truth, then why do people who pray sincerely for the truth generally end up believing in completely different things? Second, if prayer is a reliable guide to truth, then why do we need the Bible, the Qur'an, the Vedas, etc.? quote: -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- I don't think people necessarily believe drastically different ideaologies [sic.] - many religions share many commonalities - you may agree. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- As a sociologist of religions, a researcher, I always begin with a particularist, or nominalist, assumption, i.e., that each religious system is entirely unique unless similarities can be empirically demonstrated. However, I personally know people who have prayed for the truth and ended up as Wiccans, as ritual magicians, as Jews, as Muslims, as followers of Meher Baba, as Baha'is, as Jehovah's Witnesses, as members of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, and, certainly, as Mormons (given Joseph Smith's guidance on this matter). In my view, believing that prayer is a guide to the truth represents a misunderstanding of the nature and purpose of prayer. Although prayer can, in some cases, make one more open to the discovery of certain "truths," when they present themselves to a person, it is not a magic spell. Prayer is more a way of placing oneself in the position of a suppliant approaching a possessor of infinite wealth or a servant in relation to her or his master. When one's heart is pure, one may, if it is God's Will, attract God's blessings. However, those blessings are more frequently witnessed in the cultivation of virtuousness than in being given specific items of information, as a medium imagines she or he receives from a departed spirit. quote: -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Many religions exist, in my opinion, because that is the only way in which God can reach so many without eliminating there freedom to choose. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- IMO, religions are primarily human, social creations. How much those religions may or may not reflect divine revelation depends on the extent to which their followers have surrendered their own wills to the Will of God. quote: -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Christ said (approx) - In heaven there are many mansions - people obviously like to disagree and divide into groups. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- True, but large numbers of religious groups have always existed. Given our continually shrinking planet, this diversity has just become more obvious. quote: -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- We are all born with the light of Christ, a conscience; this is one way in which God communicates with us. IMO we all receive answers to our prayers, but most of us fail to recognize it as so. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Yes, and that conscience is a sense of what is virtuous, not of which religion is true. It is the spirit of faith, the blessing of the Holy Spirit to the human soul. I agree that all prayers are answered. However, those answers are frequently found, not in receiving answers to questions, but in being spiritually transformed.
"There is a liberal media." The Fox News Channel is "fair and balanced." Both of these are examples of useful lies:

"A harmful truth is better than a useful lie."
- Thomas Mann



posted at 07:42:08 AM by Dr. Mark A. Foster

Thursday,December 12,2002

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Well the question was in a definition of "the true axis of evil". As Iran, Iraq and North Korea were called innocent countries in comparison to evil United states, Britain and Israel.

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I do not think that Iran, Iraq, and North Korea are innocent. All three are, to varying degrees, run by despots. Nonetheless, these three countries are, with the possible exception of North Korea, primarily regional threats to global peace and stability.

Together, the U.S., Britain, and Israel present what is perhaps the greatest threat to our survival that we have ever faced. The main problem is the U.S. However, Britain is, for its own geopolitical reasons (oil), going along with the United States; while the Zionist state of Israel, whose existence is one of the great tragedies of history, is despised by the area of the world targeted for military action by the United States and Britain.

The U.S. quest for power, oil, and economic domination threatens to destabilize one of two or three most volatile regions of the world. In other words, the contradictions of capitalism are being played out on a global stage, and the false consciousness of certain Middle Eastern nations (Kuwait, Qatar, etc.) is making them complicit in the American global "crusade."

The revolution against capitalism which Marx predicted is now a reality, but it is taking a form which he never could have anticipated.

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You are absolutely right I overemphasized the nature of oppressors which is much broader, then just muslim countries, however "the evil trio" still didn't make it to your list somehow..

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Because, IMO, it is the U.S., Britain, and Israel which are the major players - the primarily global oppressors.

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"...last fall, when Alexi II made it plain that he really wanted a new law limiting the freedom of other (OTHER Churches) religious bodies to compete with the Orthodox, President Boris Yeltsin reluctantly complied.

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Yes, I know. The Russian Orthodox Church now wields tremendous power in that county. Of course, prior to the Soviet era, that church was also quite powerful. They are now recovering their former glory.

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Hitler himself though believed in resurrection of ancient german gods, and was to rid of Christians after he'd finished with Jews.

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Yes, he started with Jehovah's Witnesses.

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He considered Christianity to be a step-brother of Judaism, and too infected with jewish ideas. Many Christians had been executed for hiding Jews.

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Yep.

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in my list already... what it is doing in yours?

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As a sociologist of religion, I find any form of religious oppression, including that of the Falun Gong, to be despicable and deserving of condemnation.

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Official Roman Catholic Church "denounced Enlightenment principles as demonic"... Well what about protestants?

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Protestants, too. I have read some of the sermons from the period. Even today, if you watch this message board, the people who have been most intolerant of my own views have been evangelical and fundamentalist Christians.

In my (subjective) experience, that is typical. Back when I worked for CompuServe and America Online (Internet services), as an administrator, the people I had the most difficulties with were evangelical and fundamentalist Christians - who insisted on "witnessing" (frequently in a very hostile manner) to those of other religious groups - and doing so in the forums (or folders) of those other religions!

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Thomas Aquinas, Rene Descartes and early "humanists" were Catholics who actually took a part in the Enlightenment in Europe.

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Yes, well most of the Enlightenment thinkers came from a Christian background. However, for the most part, they were not particularly religious. Some actually advocated a secular, scientific religion - a process which culminated in the positivist "Religion for Humanity" of Auguste Comte.

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Francois Rabelais who wrote "Gargantua and Pantagruel" the book which would show in ridiculous form many religious doctrines was a Catholic monk.

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Yep, he was a liberal for his own day.

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In the US history when bill with 1st amendment was signed by President Jefferson, and the era of separation of church and state had began, the next thing president was sure to do is to assign chaplains to every school and governmental office.

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There has been considerable debate on the meaning of the "establishment clause." However, it is clear that most of the American founding fathers intended that the United States should not have a state religion, such as the state religion of Britain was (and is) Anglicanism.

I think that their view of that clause was quite narrow and did not include, in their minds, a prohibition on government (and military) chaplains. Of course, more recently, some people have argued that the establishment clause should be interpreted more broadly. However, that is a subject of constant debate.

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The Founding Fathers were believers and devoted Christians.

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Most were deists. Some were midway between being theists and deists. Others appear to have vacillated throughout their lives (from reading what they wrote on this subject).

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All they waned for this country is to have freedom of religion, speech etc. And the 1st amendment was the way for achieving it.

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Yes.

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Otherwise it would slide the way Catholicism did in Europe.

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Or Anglicanism in Britain, Russian Orthodoxy in Russia, etc.

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BTW anti-Semitism leads to curses. Loyalty towards Israel is a way of blessing..

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I am from a Jewish background and proud of it. However, I am strongly anti-Zionist (political Zionism) and pro-Palestinian. The two are not the same.

posted at 05:20:28 AM by Dr. Mark A. Foster

Wednesday,December 11,2002

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I so new that you will post what you have posted, but I needed to say that Muhammed (pbuh) is the last prophet.

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Yes, I know that is the Islamic view. However, "seal" (khatam) does not mean last.

If I write a letter and place my seal at the end, what does that mean? It is essentially the same as a signature. In other words, I am indicating that the letter is written under my authority. It doesn't mean that I won't write any more letters!

Likewise, the title "Seal," as a reference to the revelatory authority of the author of the Qur'an, can not only be applied to Muhammad but to all the Prophets. In other words, the teachings revealed in the Qur'an were given to humanity under the authority of Muhammad. It doesn't mean that Muhammad is the last of the Prophets.

In brief, Muhammad had the authority to interpret all that had been said by the Prophets of the past.

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What I wonder is why do the people who beleve in one and only God need some intermediaries to pray to? Why can't they pray directly?

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In my view, we can pray to God either directly or through the Prophet. However, in either case, the prayer is mediated by the Prophet, since the Prophet is humanity's only connection with God.


In the New Testament, it says, "There is one mediator between God and man, Christ Jesus"

Why did Jesus say that we can do all that he did and even more? Jesus was restricted in His sphere of action. However, it was not because of limitations in His power but because of his circumstances, i.e., the manner in which He was oppressed by the Jews and Romans.

God, the Essence and Source of all things, exists on a higher plane of existence than Jesus (or any of the Prophets and Messengers of God) and, as the Prophet Muhammad said, to posit a "trinity" is blasphemous and shirk (assigning partners with God).

I also believe that we, as humans, have no way of directly approaching God. It is for this reason that we mortals need to rely on Prophets (Warners) and Messengers (Apostles) who convey to us God's Will through His revealed Word (the Tanakh, the Gospels, the Qur'an, etc.). They act as intermediaries between God and humanity.


I would make a distinction between two ideas:

First, Jews, Christians, and Sabians (Muhammad's term, meaning "baptists," for Mandaeans, i.e., the followers of John the Baptist - Yahya - who did not accept Christ) are people of the Book. Therefore, Muhammad gave them certain rights and rewards.

Second, anyone who rejects the latest Prophet (Muhammad, in the case of the Qur'an) is, by definition, "punished." That punishment is, IMO, the disbelief itself - being cut off from the grace of God. On the other hand, there is a difference, I think, between rejecting and failing to accept. One can only reject something one has been offered.

Third, in my view, the question of what constitutes acceptance and rejection is in the hands of God. Many people who call themselves believers may, in God's eyes, be disbelievers and hypocrites. Only God knows one's private thoughts and innermost motivations. On the other hand, some of those who have not outwardly accepted the Prophet may, in fact, inwardly be believers.

Fourth, as I see it, heavenly rewards and hellish punishments are always just and proportional. The people of the Book (Jews, Christians, and Sabians) were promised spiritual rewards in the Qur'an for following a Lawgiver (a Messenger or Rasul). However, if they rejected God's revelation through Muhammad, they might also have received some degree of punishment in the world to come.


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a dozen of other MUSLIM countries where Christians are being killed and prosecuted just for being Christians

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Okay, and ...

  1. The former Soviet Union (predominantly, in its Russian republic, Russian Orthodox) persecuted virtually all religionists.
  2. Germany (a predominantly Lutheran country) killed millions of Jews (in addition to Jehovah's Witnesses and others) during World War II.
  3. China (a predominantly Confucianist, Buddhist, and Taoist country) has killed millions of religionists and is presently persecuting members of the Falun Gong.
  4. Medieval Europe (predominantly Roman Catholic) executed Jews and others during the Inquisition.
  5. Christians in Salem, Mass. (and throughout Europe), executed women on charges of being witches.

What you are referring to is Enlightenment rationalism or pluralism. It should be noted that, originally, major Christian groups denounced Enlightenment principles as demonic because they dared tolerate those who were not "Christian."

The Enlightenment principle of tolerance, from the Enlightenment, is secular, not "Christian," and some predominantly Muslim nations (such as Indonesia) have already adopted it.

Furthermore, some Christian groups still regard religious tolerance as largely unacceptable, as indicated by recent comments by Franklin Graham, Pat Robertson, and Jerry Falwell.

posted at 06:42:55 AM by Dr. Mark A. Foster

Tuesday,December 10,2002

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mr. foster i remember working for the F.B.I. andwe received tips from the inside about certain mob activitys. that inside source was a member of the illuminati.

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By working for the FBI, what do you mean? Were you an administrator, an agent, a clerical assistant, a custodian? Did you have access to top secret (and above) documents?

Why is it that all the proponents of illuminati conspiratism I have come across are right-wing ideologues?

If the illuminati were as much of a threat to civil liberties as many conspirators argue, then why is not the left equally concerned? After all, capitalist globalization is opposed more by the left than by the right (with the exception of the far-right anti-Semitic obsession with the Rothschild bankers).

Also, why is it that the "illuminati" is not named on the FBI's most wanted list of terrorists?

http://www.fbi.gov/mostwant/terrorists/fugitives.htm

From what the conspirators are saying, the illuminati are surely more of a threat to world peace and stability than al-Qa'ida and its sympathizer groups.

Why has Bush not declared a war on the Illuminati? No, don't tell me. Because Bush himself belongs to the group, right? How convenient. I guess all the other leaders of the world must also be illuminatists.

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i also remember certain people bragging within the B U S H family spear of influence what they will do to the cathloc church.

Gee, strange that, after two years in office, G.W. Bush has given no indication that he plans to do anything to the Roman Catholic Church. Certainly, if that were his objective, the recent scandals surrounding the R.C. Church in America would clearly have given him a pretext to take action.

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those creeps are still stalking me today.

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Care to provide me with evidence? Oh, sorry, I should have realized that you cannot do that. Perhaps I am a member of the illuminati, or an illuminati "informant," and I might turn you over to the grand pooh-bah, the Gilbert and Sullivanesque "Lord-High-Everything-Else" of the illuminati. ;-)

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the B U S H family and the ben lindon familys were a close knit group of people who shared these common instrest.

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The common interest is domination of the Middle East and Persian Gulf areas, their governments and their oil.

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the terrorist attact of SEPTEMBER 11,2001 was one of these common instrents that were made by long range planning which would be considered premeditated mass murder of over 3100 people and the destruction of the world trade center site.

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You sound like that French fellow who argued that it was a U.S. missile, not a plane, which crashed into the Pentagon building.

What evidence do you have for your assertion, or is simply stating it sufficient, and I am blind because I cannot recognize the obvious?

I have had many discussions with illuminati conspirators over the years.

posted at 12:29:08 AM by Dr. Mark A. Foster

Monday,December 09,2002

There is really nothing in the West that approximates a Christian culture anymore. However, if the U.S. had anything to say about it, that culture would undoubtedly extol the virtues of corporate capitalism.


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Jesus, did not leave instructions to kill anyone!

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Neither did Muhammad, except in defensive actions. Also, by defensive actions, He meant defending anyone who is oppressed, including Jews and Christians.


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Doc, how about giving us three or four examples of "corporatocracy" and why they should be viewed as "the enemy".

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1. The alcohol companies marketing their products to the peoples along the Amazon River in Latin America, resulting in rampant alcoholism.

2. The tobacco companies having lied for years, claiming erroneously that they had no evidence that tobacco caused cancer.

3. The Ford Motor Company, back in the 70s, selling their infamous Pinto, knowing that it had caused numerous deaths. Why? Because if they had added a small extra part to the body of the car, it would have raised the sticker price and, supposedly, made it a less competitive vehicle.

4. Microsoft driving other companies out of business through engaging in anticompetitive practices. (I can enumerate some of them if you like.) The courts, of course, have already reprimanded Microsoft and other decisions (such as the one involving the Sun Corporation) are forthcoming.

5. The petro-politics played by the United States in the Persian Gulf.

Political policies are frequently shaped by corporate interests. Politicians looked the other way for years at the lies of the tobacco lobby because it was padding their pockets.


Early, or first-century, Christianity was apparently socialist:

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44: And all that believed were together, and had all things common;

45: And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need.

46: And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart,

47: Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.

[The Book of Acts]

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However, many of the contemporary Christianities have abandoned the original biblical teaching and instead advocate capitalism.


There is no substantial evidence that modern-day Jews are the direct descendants of the ancient Hebrews.

Also, although I am loathe to refer to prophecies, since I see them more as (generally misunderstood) warnings than as "predictions," there are some tanakhian references to a reconstituted Israel. However, nowhere does the Tanakh indicate that it would be a "Jewish state."

IMO, the U.S., Britain, and Israel (not Iraq, Iran, and North Korea) are the true axis of evil in the 21st century.


Any news about what has happened to King George's and his henchman, der Fuhrer, General Johan Asscrack's (seik heil! heil Asscrack!) concentration camps for Muslims? Notice how they haven't been in the press recently? Where's an asscracker when you need one?

posted at 07:50:23 AM by Dr. Mark A. Foster

Sunday,December 08,2002

I have no problem with labels, as long as they mean something and facilitate, rather than hinder, clear communication, and are not used as a surrogate for understanding (the so-called fallacy of naming).


"An obvious conclusion cannot escape us - USA as a society and as a nation practices God's laws as laid out in the Quran, more so, than any other nation in the world."

--- http://www.submission.org/islam/usa.html

I do not agree with everything that the writer says on the above referenced web page. For instance:

  1. I do not agree that modern capitalism is democratic, especially corporate capitalism and the corporatocracy it has produced.
  2. I do not agree that the United States presents us with the best case of political "democracy" (republicanism). Any nation which would permit the likes of Joseph McCarthy or John Ashcroft to run amuck is more fascistic than democratic.
  3. I do agree that democratic principles, generally speaking, are more in keeping with the Qur'an than are those of the Islamic fundamentalists (Sunni or Shi'ih).

The various books of the Bible were written in other ages, and in different historical and cultural contexts.

Attempts to apply the views of the any of the biblical writers about the role of women in a worship service, or about many other subjects, to the modern world results in the commission of a fallacy of the inscrutable past (one of the ahistoricist fallacies), i.e., distorting texts from the past to conform to our own contemporary perspectives. In other words, most "believers" try to explain away or rationalize, and hence to ignore, the misogynistic statements in the Bible.

Among the church fathers, St. Augustine was the misogynist par excellence.

Are there any religious scriptures which promote misandry and misandrists? <grin>

posted at 02:32:20 AM by Dr. Mark A. Foster

Saturday,December 07,2002

Absent any corroboration, using a religious scripture as a history or science textbook is, IMO, not very wise.

Arguing that modern-day Jews are not necessarily related to the ancient Hebrews (which may, incidentally, be valid for unrelated reasons), based on biblical exegesis, is as problematic as justifying the existence of the State of Israel, and of political Zionism more generally, from a supposed scriptural prophecy.


Have you ever thought about the similarities between Quakerism and Orthodoxy? Both center authority in the body of believers. However, in Quakerism, it is the meeting which has that authority, not all Quakers collectively.

posted at 02:30:52 AM by Dr. Mark A. Foster

Friday,December 06,2002

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Those who claim that a 'Illuminati Conspiracy' does not exist, are 'Blind, Deaf and Dumb', or are themselves 'Illuminati'.

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Damn, that is the most convincing argument for the existence of the illumaniti I have ever read.


I don't think humans cause evil. I would rather say that evil is the result of an absence of the power of the spirit.

It is kind of like a blind man walking around in a mine field.



posted at 08:46:44 AM by Dr. Mark A. Foster

Thursday,December 05,2002

Conservatives criticize those on the left for being utopian, but isn't it utopian for conservatives to favor total abstinence education, with no option for education in birth control as a fail-safe mechanism?


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My feeling is America has the right to withdraw from the world cop role, that our OPEC masters take for granted while being both overtly and covertly hostile towards us. We have the right to not defend them!

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The problem with America's world-cop role is that she is trying to make the world in her own image.

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I went to a Bahai funeral service one time and noticed an extraordinarily racial bias present. Most of the American caucasian women were in mixed marriages with foreign men of other races and there were very few caucasian males period.

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There is tremendous religious diversity in the Baha'i community. Some Baha'is marry those of other racial and ethnic groups. Some do not. Here in the Kansas City area, most of the Baha'i men are "caucasian."

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Whats up with this religious racism? Is it your desire to fit into Bahai that causes you to make so many anti american turn coat style remarks?

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I disagree that my remarks are anti-American. I regard them as pro-American. IMO, it is the neoconservatives who are anti-American.

Your second sentence is simply ad hominem and cannot be responded to.

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Also, in a conversation with some of the people I learned they come to America because they consider it to be the place of the most freedom in the entire world. Is this freedom worth preserving or fighting for to you?

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There are some things about the U.S. I like, and some things I do not like. It depends on what you mean by "freedom." Certain forms of freedom I find appealing; others I do not. Finally, what hard evidence do you have that the rest of the world regards the U.S. as having more freedom than any other country?

The usual argument is that they want to come here, but that is tautological, not an argument.

posted at 04:32:31 PM by Dr. Mark A. Foster

Wednesday,December 04,2002

I haven't had a sip of alcohol since I was around 13, when I got semi-drunk at a friend's bar mitzvah. My religion of choice, which I joined at 14 years old, doesn't allow the non-medicinal use of alcohol and drugs, and I follow those laws faithfully.


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Let Iraq have Saudia, they have not caused harm to us like Saudia has. We could always buy the oil from any of them.

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It is not for the U.S., or any nation, to determine whether one country has a right to conquer another country. That is a matter for the United Nations.

Indeed, it is America's arrogance which will, I believe, eventually be the primary cause of her downfall.

"How are the mighty fallen in the midst of the battle!" - II Samuel 1:25


Personally, I don't believe that there is an external enemy - Satan, Shaytan, Lucifer, Ahriman, Kal Niranjan, or whatever. The only enemy is the insistent self.


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The term in Marv's post "arabian tribalistic culture" does seem to be the culprit that views America as the first enemy, and the remaining non muslim cultures as the remainder of the enemy.

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Well, America is the major enemy to the world's peace and stability, IMO.

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They view practically everything about you or your wife as sin, to them especially your freedom of choice is sin.

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I have no more love for the militant Islamists than I do for American imperialists.

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Their goal is our demise or conversion, this includes you and your professorship. If you continue dismissing this as something else, you may be sleeping at the wheel.

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I would rather do what I can to undermine U.S. hegemony. That is the greater threat.

And your reference to my professorship is just rhetoric.


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I'm not sure that bin Sultan's wife was actually accused of deliberately giving money to the hijackers.

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Some of the commentators on Fox News Channel, and Pat Buchanan on MSNBC, did make the argument that the princess may have intentionally channeled the money to the hijackers.

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What the problem seems to be is a combination of the lack of Saudi control over the way monies are given away and perhaps a little "wink and nod" attitude by Saudis in general as to the actual use of the donations.

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I would agree with that. However, I think these folks who are being so critical of the princess are being a bit two-faced. What if I went to the bank, got a money order, and sent it to one of the supposed "enemies" of the United States. How would the U.S. know about it or stop me from doing it?

What about all the people, after 9/11, who contributed money to the Red Cross, with the understanding that their money would only be used for the victims of 9/11. When they subsequently discovered that the Red Cross planned to use some of that money for other purposes, was it the fault of the contributors or of the Red Cross?

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In an environment as sloppy as that, it's easy to see how an honest donation can wind up in the wrong hands.

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I think that is expecting more out of another government than many (most?) Americans would expect out of their own. How would Americans, in general, feel if all the money they contributed to charities was monitored?

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The same is true with zakat which more often is funneled through mosques and Islamic charities rather than direct donations to the poor.

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Just as much of the money which gets sent to Israel comes from American Christian churches and Jewish temples.

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The number of Muslim converts in the US, or even world-wide, is always a matter of speculation.

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Much of the growth of Islam in the U.S. comes from the African American community - especially those who are incarcerated - and from immigrant populations.

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Just as we can separate Christianity and Christian Fundamentalists, let's separate Islam and Wahhabism.

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I think that a better comparison to Wahabbiyih is the Christian identity movement, not Christian fundamentalism as a whole.

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And currently, the loudest voice is that of the Wahhabists.

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Most Wahabbiyyih, including those in Saudi Arabia (the birthplace of the movement), are peaceful and do not advocate violence. It is a small minority of them, such as those in al-Qa'ida, who promote violent means to establish Islamic states.

Wahabbiyyih is red-neck Islam.

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The most fertile ground in the US for "conversions" seems to be the black prison population.

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Yes, exactly. I should have read your full message before replying.

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When Al-Jubeir talked of mosques being hijacked by radical Islamists, he was probably referring to the estimated eighty percent of European and US mosques where the Wahhbbists and their sympathizers have gained a major voice.

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While I don't agree with the Wahabbiyyih, I have nothing against them. My only objection is towards those Wahabbiyyih who promote violence.

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The development of the madrases has paralleled that of the mosques. They are another example of the ineptitude of the Saudi government together with the concept of "tribute" (read extortion) the is part of the heritage of the Arabian tribalistic culture.

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Personally, I find all the objections to the Madrassas to be a bit hypocritical. I never hear these people object to the all the pro-Zionist activity performed by Hadassas, Jewish Temples, the B'nai Brith, etc. If some people can work for a country that is opposed to the interests of the Palestinians, then why can't other people work for those who oppose the imperialist objectives of the Israelis?

posted at 05:05:40 PM by Dr. Mark A. Foster

Tuesday,December 03,2002

Found on a message board:

An Israeli,

a Palestinian,

a Canadian,

an American,

an Iraqi,

a Pakistani,

an Indian,

a Native Canadian Indian,

A Native American Indian,

Are all taken at random from where they reside by the Creator, and put upon an Island to either learn to live together in peace, or kill each other off in a Grand Experiment.

The Creator reasoned that if they learned to live together in peace, then humanity could be spared extinction.

And if they decided to kill each other off, then the Creator would decide to destroy humanity before humanity destroys itself. If only to spare the earth, where innocent non-human animals reside everyday.

All the different nationalities had no idea what brought them here to this Island, but adapted to their new surroundings and began to make separate camps.

All the nationalities were given pieces which would allow them to make a boat, and sail away to freedom. But difficulties arose.

Every time the Palestinian would be building a boat, the Israeli would come and steal parts of the boat away for the purpose of making his own boat. This always annoyed the Palestinian so he would go to the Israeli boat and destroy those parts that were stolen from him in the first place.

The Israeli reasoned that since the Palestinian was destroying his boat parts, it entitled him to go and steal some more boat parts from the Palestinian.

The cycle continued until they declared war on each other.

When the American was building his boat, the Canadian latched on and asked if he could take a ride with him. It was the Canadians idea that if they pooled their resources together freely, they could make a bigger better boat and reach freedom sooner, and together. The American agreed, so they both began to begin work on a secondary bigger boat.

(Of course, the American later decided to take credit for the whole idea himself. The Canadian decided to let the American think what he wanted, so long as the end result was a good one for him personally.)

The Iraqi used the materials to begin work on weapons, in hopes that he may be able to steal one of the boats away. He decided to ally himself with the “Palestinian cause”, in hopes of annihilating the Israeli; and in secret hopes of then stabbing the Palestinian in the back to steal his boat from under him.

The Pakistani and Indian began to argue about a disputed piece of wood which they both called “Kashmir”, one that was given to neither of them but was found by them at the same time.

They began to use their resources for making the boat, to build weapons instead in order to kill the other over the “disputed piece of wood”.

Eventually their resources were diminished, and the disputed piece of wood itself was all they had left. A grand piece of wood it was by itself, but much too small to build an entire boat in and of itself.

This whole time the Native American and Native Canadian traded the rights to their resources to the Canadian and the American, for the right to travel alongside them on their boats. As the Canadian and American worked on this grand new boat, the Natives hunted for food and drink to keep the energy strong for all four of them

At nights, they would gather around a fire built by the Natives (but which of course the American always took credit for building), to listen to stories told by the American about how great he was.

The Canadian and the Natives would look at each other, and roll their eyes up; but they would give the American some leeway for the sake of peace and friendship.

As the Palestinian would make new parts for his boat, the Israeli would steal them in the name of “Justice”. And as the Israeli stole these pieces away, the Palestinian would go and destroy them later in the name of “Justice”.

Eventually, all their resources were gone and they were left with nothing to make a boat with; and left with a war... over nothing.

The Pakistani and the Indian continued their fight over the disputed wood, and even without any resources left but the piece of wood itself, they continued to “bop” each other on the head with it.

Eventually, the Pakistani “won” with a final blow to the head of the Indian.

The Pakistani rejoiced, but soon fell to the ground with severe head trauma... and died an hour later.

The Israeli came across the grand piece of wood, and carried it off to the Canadian/American/Native boat building area.

The Israeli explained to them all his side of the story “The Palestinian keeps destroying pieces of my boat, and I do not know why. This grand piece of wood is all I have left. Surely our American friends can see it within their hearts, to help an honest ol Israeli fellow?”

The Canadian had his own personal reservations about this, as the boat had already been almost finished; and he had little desire to see it dismantled to build a new bigger one.

But of course, the American (in his infinite wisdom) declared “That grand piece of wood would make a wonderful frontpiece for the boat. You may join our crew.”

The Israeli thanked the American.

The Israeli, hoping that the Palestinian would not have the opportunity to tell his side of the story to the Americans or Canadians, began to steal resources from the American/Canadian/Native camp for the purpose of building weapons.

His intention was to destroy the Palestinian before he had a chance to tell his side of the story.

At nights, the Israeli and the American would trade stories around the campfire.

The American would talk about how great he was.

And the Israeli would tell horror stories about this Palestinian.

The propaganda continued in this fashion, until one day the Canadian noticed that there was a portion of building resources missing.

The same resources which had been stolen secretly by the Israeli, to make weapons against the Palestinian.

The Canadian, American, and Natives were outraged as now they did not have sufficient materials to build their grand boat.

The Israeli immediately took the opportunity to accuse the Palestinian falsely of stealing the resources.

He explained to the group how the “Iraqi had used his resources to build weapons instead of a boat, and had been supplying them to the Palestinian for the purpose of killing us to steal our boat.”.

At that time, the Palestinian had come along the American/Canadian/Native/Israeli camp and asked if there was any work he could do to “hitch a ride”.

The Israeli immediately cried “foul”, and he attempted to influence the rest of the group into killing the Palestinian. The American began to consider it may be a good idea to do so. The Canadian saw no reason to do so, as the Palestinian was unarmed and was not proven guilty of anything. The Natives decided not to concern themselves with these matters and went off to hunt for more food.

The Israeli and the American conferred with each other, and decided (after telling the Canadian) that they would only initiate negotiations with the Palestinian regarding coming aboard for the ride, once his “terror” and “thieving” of their resources stopped. The Palestinian asked to talk with the Israeli one-on one, and in their discussion the Palestinian tried to make peace with the Israeli. The Israeli spit in the face of the Palestinian, after the Palestinian called him an “infidel liar”. The Palestinian then punched the Israeli in the nose, causing it to bleed.

The Israel then ran to the American and Canadian to show them “what this barbaric person did to me” and how “he cannot be trusted”.

The Palestinian tried to tell his side of the story but was met with skepticism by the American and Canadian in light of the recent development of the Israeli bloody nose. He was sent away, and told not to come back for discussion about “hitching a ride” until he did so peacefully and without stealing their resources.

Meanwhile, the Israeli had suggested that they should dismantle part of their ship to build weapons in order to take away the Iraqi’s “weapons of mass destruction”.

It would have the added benefit of adding new resources, for the building of their boat, by stealing the weapons from the Iraqi, dismantling them, and turning them into boat parts eventually. The American liked the idea alot.

The Canadian has reservations about the plan, and thought it might be wiser to go look for more resources rather then dismantling their boat to go to war with the Iraqi over them.

But the American brought up the subject of “weapons of mass destruction” and the American could not resist the prospect of all that rich wood the Iraqi used to make his weapons.

The two Natives were not around for this “vote” as they were away hunting for food, to bring back to the camp to keep everyone energized.

It was decided then, that they would dismantle the boat and go to war with the Iraqi over his resources.

In the meantime, the Iraqi had come across the Palestinian and heard him tell his tale of woe. The Iraqi promised the Palestinian that a better life awaited him in Paradise if he would follow the Iraqis plan to a tee.

“This American and this Israeli only want war. So let us bring them war.”

The Palestinian agreed, as there was little choice with all the Israeli propaganda being fed to the American and Canadian.

“They will never see my side of the story”, he thought to himself.

And so both sides prepared for a war.

Meanwhile, the Native Canadian and Native American had kept quiet throughout this political dispute; but became very displeased when they noticed the American, Canadian, and the Israeli dismantling their ship for the purpose of waging war.

The two Natives conferred with each other, and decided there was only one way to solve this problem before all the resources had been depleted.

The Natives announced to every nationality that was still alive on the Island that they would be hosting a “Great Feast For Peace” in which it was their hopes the end result would be peace.

Initially, the Iraqi was opposed to the idea; but the Palestinian talked him into it. The Iraqi thought he could pacify the Palestinian for now, if only to use him later for his own selfish purposes.

And initially the Israeli was opposed to the idea, the American was sceptical... but the Canadian talked them both into it.

The Great Feast came, and they celebrated with all sorts of goodies. Wild Boars, berries, and even a special intoxicating substance similar to beer.

The celebration quickly turned into hostility as the Iraqi threw a berry at the Israeli, and then the Israeli threw a wild pig at the Palestinian.

Soon there was a food fight, and the Natives looked at each other and rolled their eyes.

The Native Canadian whispered to the Native American “It is time”.

The two Natives then massacred all of the nationalities to death, pooled all their resources together, finished the boat, and left the Island.

As they floated down the sea in their grand boat, the Creator stopped them, showed Himself to them, and asked “Why did you massacre the others, when no one had a disagreement with you personally?”

The Native American spoke “As the Creator, and as an all-knowing being, you know yourself that the Canadian, and the American had no intention of staying true to their contract of letting us aboard their boat. Also, had we let them continue this war, all the resources would be gone and there would be no way to make a boat at all anymore.”

“What evidence do you have to say such a thing?” asked the Creator

“As you well know,” responded the Native Canadian, “our reservations back home are evidence enough, are they not?”

“True”, responded the Creator, “but sadly the Human race has still failed the Test.”

The Natives did not understand what the Creator meant by this, and before they could ask Him, the bright Light disappeared as quickly as it had first appeared.

As they floated down the sea in their grand boat, and just as the Native Canadian laughed to

the Native American “The fools”; they noticed the sky turn to fire, the sea turned to ice...

Judgment Day came upon the earth, and the human race became extinct.

The earth and all it’s innocent inhabitants lived happily ever after.

posted at 10:34:44 AM by Dr. Mark A. Foster

Monday,December 02,2002

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Mine was humility and the question I read a couple of years ago was "If Satan fell by pride can we gain heaven by humility?"

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I agree that humility is an important virtue to cultivate. In one sense, I would even say that humility is the highest virtue. Absolute nothingness, or self-effacement, is the highest degree of perfection in Attar's Conference of the Birds.

Virtuousness is not linear. When I said that justice was the highest virtue, I had in mind that, before one can draw near to God, one needs to be fair and objective - to see things with one's own eyes, not through those of others.

From yet another standpoint, I would say that truthfulness is the highest virtue, and lying is the source of personal destruction.

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I would have to put justice down further on the list because I want more mercy than justice for me and everyone else!

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Yes, but mercy would have no meaning were it not for justice.


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If you don't know Krauthammer personally and have nothing against him, then why the "He is also a flaming neoconservative" comment?

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Because I find neoconservative empire-building childish, whiney, and objectionable. However, I make a distinction between the viewpoints held by people and the people themselves. I find Pat Buchanan's paleoconservative views, with some exceptions, to be extremely dangerous (though not to the same degree as the neocons). However, I consider him to be a likable sort, and, on those rare occasions when I am home during the week, I watch his cable television program.

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I was suggesting that when a recognized journalist's comment on a "war on terror" changes to a "war between civilizations", something is in the process of change.

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Well, you are calling him a "respected journalist." However, respect is socially conferred, not innate. Those who have ascribed to him this respect are generally either neoconservatives themselves or else social conservatives (the Christian Right). When neocons speak of a war on civilization, they are walking right into the Islamist trap.

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Remember that during the Civil War, it took time for a "war against secession" to become a "war to free the slaves". The paradigm shifted and things took on a new tone. The same is beginning to happen today. This "war" is going to last a long time and before it's over, it will be seen as a "war between civilizations". Osama bin Laden has already said as much.

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Exactly, that is what Usama has said. However, Usama's goal is to populate the earth with Taliban-like Islamist regimes, perhaps with a reconstituted caliphate. His utopian paradigm is also at complete odds with one of the most fundamental principles taught in the Qur'an, "Let there be no compulsion in religion."

IMO, Islam is much more compatible with democratic, than with Islamist, principles. Of course, that is provided that democratic principles are distinguished from the emerging Anglo-American pseudodemocratic worldview.

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Dr. Ziad Asali and Hussein Ibish are among the frequent Arab guests on CNN, Fox News, NPR and other news outlets. I've never heard any of them condemn 9/11.

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Ibish was on Hardball just this past week, and he condemned 9/11. Ibish, by the way, is not a religious Muslim.

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The extent has been to excuse it. To rationalize it.

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I have never seen Ibish excuse the events of 9/11. I have seen him try to explain the Palestinian suicide bombers in the context of the Israeli occupation. In that, I actually agree with him. IMO, all of Israeli and Palestinian territory is occupied land.

I am increasingly beginning to think that the Israelis should simply be forced to go back to the U.S., Europe, or wherever they, or their grandparents, came from. They are merely the guests of the Palestinians, and they have not behaved like very good guests. Unfortunately, that is not likely to happen.

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To suggest that it may even have been the fault of the United States - without being explicit. And yes, they've had plenty of airwave time. They're among some of the most sought after guests these days.

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In that respect, I agree with Pat Buchanan who says, "The reason why they {al-Qa'ida} are coming here {to the West} is because we {the Americans, the British, etc.} are there {Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, etc.}." It is obvious why the neocons are no friend to Buchanan.

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I exagerated when I said that I was as far right as you are left. In reality, I'm a little right of center.

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Okay.

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BTW, did you score in the 90-95 percentile, or was that your raw score on the Miller Analogies?

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I remember the counselor telling me that my score placed me in the top 1/2 of 1 percent of the population. (My IQ is 163.) It might have been my raw score. I don't remember. That was back in 1974 when I was a freshman in college.


Habib,

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Do not be suprised when the Islam fundamentalists attack the Christian countries during the Christmas season.

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Do you have any inside knowledge???


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OK, so you don't like the messenger. That doesn't denigrate the message.

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No, I don't know Mr. Krauthammer personally, and I have nothing against him. It is his message that I find objectionable.

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It was the American media that I was talking about. However, I should point out that these Sunday morning political talk shows are broadcast world-wide. And when a noted journalist is willing to make such a statement, it's a new paradigm.

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Yes, and the most widely watched of them is Wolf Blitzer Reports. Unfortunately, in my view, many people get their impression of the United States, and its people, from watching these shows.

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Well, I have, and often.

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Not sure what you mean. I said that I all the Muslims I have seen on broadcast and cable television have condemned the events of 9/11. Your response does not make sense to me in that contex. Are you saying that you have frequently seen Muslim guests on the American Sunday talk shows praising the activities of al-Qa'ida?

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Well, I'm not a neoconservative; I'm a conservative. I'm also probably as far right as you are left.

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Well, that would make you a fascist! However, I assume you mean that you are a paleoconservative. A Buchananite perhaps?

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But I don't think that I have to warn you about Marxism. I'm sorry I had to dumb this down for you, but I see that you only scored in the 90th percentile on the Miller Analogies.

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If you are referring to my "tests" page, I am unclear as to what you mean. I was told that less than 1/2 of one percent of Americans score that high. As I remember, I got almost every correlation correct. It was somewhere between 90 and 95%. I took that test back in 1974.


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MFoster---I had heard, but I don't know if it is true, that the plural 'Elohim' in the O.T. was a way of conveying majesty, not a plural. Kind of like a king or queen saying, "We are not amused." What is your take?

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That was one viewpoint. However, the dominant perspective among Old Testament scholars is that the plural Elohim (rather than the singular Eloha) was used because of the commonality of its use among the pagan peoples. In other words, outside of the Hebrews, most people were polytheists.

Nonetheless, the verse in Genesis, "Let Us make man in Our Own image, after Our likeness," illustrates the same sort of style sometimes found in the Qur'an.

posted at 04:49:06 AM by Dr. Mark A. Foster

Sunday,December 01,2002

>>The journalist Charles Krauthammer just stated this morning on a TV political talk show that it's no longer a "war against terrorism" but a war between civilizations.<<

Charles Krauthammer is an opinion journalist, not a journalist in the sense that I learned to practice it. (My undergraduate work was in journalism.) He is also a flaming neoconservative.

Generally speaking, neoconservatives talk about the "war on terror" as World War 4. (The Cold War was supposedly World War 3.) They also see Islam as the single greatest barrier to American hegemony and neocolonialism, i.e., the American vision of world order.

All in all, I take anything that Charles Krauthammer says with a grain of salt (and I am being generous).

>>When these pronouncements begin to show up in the mainstream media, I'd say that maybe, just maybe, things are changing.<<

The mainstream American media are only mainstream in the U.S. From the perspective of almost any other Western country, the mainstream American media are right-wing - even bordering on fascist. I rarely trust anything that appears in the so-called mainstream media.

>>Doc, when people with green hair try to kill you while other people with green hair stand quietly by saying nothing or looking the other way, don't you think that you might have a problem with people with green hair?<<

Mainstream Muslims are not given enough time in the mainstream media to make much of an impression on U.S. public opinion. However, I have never heard any Muslim spokesman on American television who has not thoroughly condemned the events of 9/11.

>>Like it or not, good muslims like obmar are going to have to choose sides. "I oppose terrorism..." isn't good enough anymore.<<

I would be careful before buying into the ideology of neoconservatism. If there is going to be another world war, these folks are likely to instigate it. They are already trying to pull George Bush's strings.


Just because Usama says that the "war on terror" is a war between Islam and the rest of the world doesn't make it so. The al-Qa'ida movement is not exactly an unbiased or disinterested observer.

Certainly, Usama has never made it a secret that he would like to see a war of civilizations. However, I don't think his view is generally supported on the street. The average Muslim, living in a Third World country, is more concerned with making a decent wage and providing for her/his family than with what happens in the Western world.

Also, although Usama would like al-Qa'ida, and other varieties of radical Wahabbism, to become mainstream Islam, that is very doubtful. Even most Saudi Wahabbiyyih are not that radical (i.e., advocating violence).


Islam, Judaism, and Sikhism are three of the most monotheistic religions in the world. It is mainline Christianity, with its dogma of the Trinity, which, I would argue, is not fully monotheistic (though not exactly polytheistic either).

The use the plural to refer to God is not only in the Qur'an, but also in the Tanakh (the Old Testament). For instance, Elohim, the word translated God in the Tanakh and a cognate of the Arabic Allah, literally translates, gods (most likely because the plural was already common in that culture).


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But why would you take religions literally?

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I don't know, but, on the face of it, your question really seems too broad to answer.

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Why are you so sure that everything in those scriptures remained undistorted?

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Well, "everything" is a large number. Of course, ultimately, there is no way to be "sure" of anything. However, rather than focusing on "those scriptures," all that scholars can do is to use textual criticism to determine degrees of distortion (or the lack thereof) of particular texts.

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Do you really have a record of any original ESOTERIC work written in the language we no longer comprehend?

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When I referred to "esoteric," I was not referring to language, in the sense you are using the term. I meant teachings which are, or were, supposedly intended for an inner circle.

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Can you decipher any ancient language or symbol?

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Me personally? No, I can read English, basic French, Esperanto, and some Arabic.

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Or maybe we are so deviated from the true Knowledge that all we have left is either "religions" or nothing?

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To me, there is no such thing as "true knowledge." There is only having knowledge about specific things.

posted at 01:11:26 PM by Dr. Mark A. Foster





Copyright © 2002 Mark A. Foster, Ph.D. All rights reserved.


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