Gordon White, Pieces of Eight: Part 1, Christianity’s Shadow |332|

#21
I agree that much of Christian apologetics is an easy straw man to knock down. However, if Christ is first mentioned in the writings of Paul in the 50's CE, Josephus surrendered in 67 CE, and wrote The Jewish War in 75 CE, then doesn't Paul's account of Jesus predate Josephus' writing by 25 years?
ok, maybe, but as you know there are a lot of other hoops to jump thru in order to put Jesus back together again. my point is, why try? Jesus is at the vbery least made real by our collective consciousness. and even if he's real historically as well we still have to wrestle with which one is more real/important/significant. I would suggest that the Jesus of our collective consciousness is what's most important.
 
#22
I read "Pieces of Eight" as soon as it came out. Have probably read hundreds of books on occultism, dozens specifically on "Chaos Magick" over the past 3 decades......I have to say I was extremely disappointed with "Pieces of Eight". Imo there are much, much better books on "Chaos Magick" out there. Gordon's pretty adamant belief in animism is one of the major flaws, imo, in his perspective, which undermines a "truer" or "deeper" comprehension of the occult & specifically "Chaos Magick". Indeed, I wouldn't personally even call this book to be about "Chaos Magick" really.

Now having heard dozens of Gordon's podcasts, read 2 of his books (and one still pending on by bookshelf), my enthusiasm for his perspective has begun to wane quite considerably. Sometimes it is very hard to discern between a wonderfully gifted & informed speaker (appearances) and being an excellent self-promoter, and somebody with a deeper experience & insight into these subjects, but perhaps without any element of desire or interest in self-promotion.........
ok, may I ask what you make of "Chaos Magick"? Why should we care about it? What larger truth does it reveal? Is this spiritual materialism? (do this to get that)
 
#23
I said exactly the same thing in the last thread. We all get that being brought up in a rigid dogma is terrible, and I know that Alex has commented about it several times before, but we (as a public) are past it. Prodding at Christians every show takes away from the experience, and is at the very least, distracting. I don't think that we can argue that skeptics are "stuck on" anything if we keep lingering on that issue.

A while ago, there was a series of two or three (consecutive) shows that were about bashing Christianity, and I was hoping that would help get that out of the system and allow the upcoming interviews to focus on the interesting stuff... Yet here we are again.
ok, let me approach from another angle... tell me what you're interested in hearing more of?
 
#24
Can someone explain the term "chaos magic". Naively I think it might mean using magic to make tiny nudges to things that are driven by chaos (in the technical sense) but that might be totally wrong!

Even though I was a Christian until age 20, most of the discussion of the history of Jesus mostly goes over my head. However I always tend to wonder if the structure of the other realm (or whatever you want to call it) is partly governed by structures here on earth - whether or not these structures were founded in an intellectually honest way!

I was half way through this podcast before I realised that it was Alex's preamble to the next talk! I kept on getting exasperated, wondering when Gordon would get a chance to speak, so I think I will have to listen to it all again!

David
 
#25
I don't really understand where you're coming down on this issue. what version of Jesus are you advocating? I mean, if you're leaning toward a Bart Ehrman "freedom fighter" and you take out all the tough talk in Mark (per this episode), you don't have much left.

However you slice this you wind up in the same place -- the Jesus of the Bible... the one we grew up with in Sunday school... the one our parents believed in... is ahistorical.
Ok, from the podcast I thought we were back to the train wreck of show 241: http://www.skeptiko-forum.com/threads/241-joseph-atwill-responds-to-caesar’s-messiah-critics.611/ That was the one where Atwill argued there was never anyone called Jesus who ended up on a cross and the figure was a Roman cipher. You don't need to be a Christian to see the errors in that thesis, or the poverty of Atwill's evidence. Not all biblical exegesis is created equal and I'd recommend anyone leaning toward the Jesus as fiction theory to read the thread.
 
#26
ok, let me approach from another angle... tell me what you're interested in hearing more of?
Most of us are here to hear more on epistemological issues, especially those related to consciousness. I don't mind related topics like synchronicity, reincarnation research, PK, etc. either. And, I am not complaining about the topic of this show, just the tangent on Christianity.

What I don't care about is religion. The internet is full of debates revolving around religion (be it religion vs. religion or religion v. atheism), which are boring as hell and dull by this point. I'm sure that if a poll was held, religion would rank pretty low among the list of topics that interest the listeners of this podcast.
 
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#27
Tangental to this thread but on similar lines, is the issue of prayer. I can think of a few NDEs, and there are almost certainly more, where the "dead" person sees lots of little lights arising from the living people surrounding their body, going to the same source they are heading towards. The person then realises these lights are prayers for their welfare. It is suggestive of the idea of strong emotions having some kind of physical, or at least ethereal reality. If prayers can have this effect, could other invocations, both positive and negative manifest in some way? Is that what some people call magick?

One of the testimonies is from a child (a drowning IIRC), so a cultural emblem is less likely, and I'm not sure sparkly lights are how people generally imagine prayers anyway.
 
#28
If we are to argue in favor of PSI and synchronicity, we are almost forced to accept that strong emotions certainly have some sort of influence on reality, since a nice portion of these reports are tied to such emotions. The link between prayer and intentionality is also understudied, or perhaps, underexposed.

Also, if we ignore the dogma, I'm sure that there is no difference in the altered states that lead to levitating eastern monks when compared with 'flying' western saints.
 
#29
ok, maybe, but as you know there are a lot of other hoops to jump thru in order to put Jesus back together again. my point is, why try? Jesus is at the vbery least made real by our collective consciousness. and even if he's real historically as well we still have to wrestle with which one is more real/important/significant. I would suggest that the Jesus of our collective consciousness is what's most important.
I finished the second half of the podcast this morning and I really liked it. I liked your excerpt from Richard Smoley, totally agree with it. I think the main point is that the Bible is not everything that mainstream Christianity thinks it is. When you look at the writings of Biblical scholars Margaret Barker and William Dever and others, I think you could say that the Bible is a history of spirituality being co-opted and altered multiple times by institutions for their own benefit.
I just don't think that it is a black and white thing with the Bible, that it is either everything that Evangelicals say that it is, or it is a complete fabrication. I agree that it is "the Jesus of our collective consciousness" that is important. I don't think that there would be a Jesus/Christ Consciousness, at least by that name, if it were not for the nuggets of wisdom in the Bible that has given it it's staying power through generations. I like the questions that Atwill is raising, but I don't see that his conclusions line up with the evidence.
But I think that these are important topics and questions for you to bring up, because Christ Consciousness is something that has repeatedly come up in the near-death experience, not to mention the lived spiritual experience of many individuals. There may or may not have been a historical Jesus, IMO I just think that you are fighting the wrong battle in trying to argue that the gospels are to be tossed out and are a complete fabrication, with no spiritual gems in them. I think there is a middle way that lines up better with all of the evidence.
 
#30
I wanted to add a couple of other thoughts to round out my last post. I believe that the Bible is considered by many academics as a great literary work, regardless as to whether it is historically real or not. Great works of fiction, by authors such as Shakespeare and Dostoevsky as a couple that come to mind and many others, are considered to contain truths about human nature. Many see the Bible to be in the same category, with its historicity in this regard being irrelevant.
Also, I believe that there is a lot of value in academic Biblical criticism. For example, Marcus Borg's book "Jesus" does a great job of using critical techniques including those used in the Jesus Seminar, to tease out what parts of the NT appear to be plausible and those that might not. (He would have made a great Skeptiko guest had he not passed away last year.)
Sorry to take up so much time on this point. I just think that there is a lot of evidence of great value in the Bible, and that it just needs to be put in its proper context, not written off as completely false, useless, and even harmful. I see it as an important work in the history of spirituality, and believe that from deep examination, a lot can be gleaned from it. Of course, this is just my opinion and I respect the views that others have.
 
#31
I wanted to add a couple of other thoughts to round out my last post. I believe that the Bible is considered by many academics as a great literary work, regardless as to whether it is historically real or not. Great works of fiction, by authors such as Shakespeare and Dostoevsky as a couple that come to mind and many others, are considered to contain truths about human nature. Many see the Bible to be in the same category, with its historicity in this regard being irrelevant.
OK - but if in some far flung future "The Hobbit" became a religious book and motivated any number of tragic events (plus some well meaning ones), when it was recognised to be a work of fiction, I think any discussion of its literary worth would have to be downplayed for a while until the Hobbit supporters had got the main message.

However great a literary work might be, that value is tiny in comparison to what it purported to be, and what that mistake may have cost the world.

David
 
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#32
OK - but if in some far flung future "The Hobbit" became a religious book and motivated any number of tragic events (plus some well meaning ones), when it was recognised to be a work of fiction, I think any discussion of its literary worth would have to be downplayed for a while until the Hobbit supporters had got the main message.

However great a literary work might be, that value is tiny in comparison to what it purported to be, and what that mistake may have cost the world.

David
Well let's not overestimate the negatives without due consideration of the historical (and IMO current) positives? It seems arguable that a great deal of modern human rights, arguably humanism itself, traces its roots back to the Bible or, at the least, the Neoplatonic ideas that influenced some of the early Church thought?
 
#33
OK - but if in some far flung future "The Hobbit" became a religious book and motivated any number of tragic events (plus some well meaning ones), when it was recognised to be a work of fiction, I think any discussion of its literary worth would have to be downplayed for a while until the Hobbit supporters had got the main message.

However great a literary work might be, that value is tiny in comparison to what it purported to be, and what that mistake may have cost the world.

David
For this analogy let’s assume that “The Hobbit” was reported to be written 2000 years ago, we had minimal records of its authorship, and that there was no significant evidence that the Hobbit as a person actually existed. It would be concerning if the “The Hobbit” had been used to justify wars and oppression. But let’s also assume that this book had a positive transforming effect in the personal lives of many people, and that thousands of people had experienced “Hobbit Consciousness” during near-death experiences.

Rather than trying to drive a nail into “The Hobbit” and put it to rest by promoting theories of its fictional authorship, I think that it would make more sense to study it and consider different theories of its origin with an open mind, and try to understand not only how it was used for evil purposes, but how it had a positive transformative effect on people. And if you are trying to spread understanding of conscious beyond the material body as exemplified by the near-death experience, I would think that the existence of “The Hobbit” and “Hobbit Consciousness” experiences would strengthen your argument rather than harm it.

(And for the “Hobbit apologists” who insist on only one literal interpretation, I would say that the ultimate objective should be to seek truth with an open mind, and not to fear gaining additional knowledge and understanding.)
 
#35
Most of us are here to hear more on epistemological issues, especially those related to consciousness. I don't mind related topics like synchronicity, reincarnation research, PK, etc. either. And, I am not complaining about the topic of this show, just the tangent on Christianity.

What I don't care about is religion. The internet is full of debates revolving around religion (be it religion vs. religion or religion v. atheism), which are boring as hell and dull by this point. I'm sure that if a poll was held, religion would rank pretty low among the list of topics that interest the listeners of this podcast.
right, but if you follow the NDE (for example) you wind up face-to-face with these issues. so you can go the route of ignoring the spiritual/religious implications of NDE science (like many of those seeking academic respectability do), but that doesn't get you any closer to answering the big questions.
 
#36
I just don't think that it is a black and white thing with the Bible, that it is either everything that Evangelicals say that it is, or it is a complete fabrication.
agreed... even moreso if we allow some of the gnositc gospels into the picture.

I agree that it is "the Jesus of our collective consciousness" that is important. I don't think that there would be a Jesus/Christ Consciousness, at least by that name, if it were not for the nuggets of wisdom in the Bible that has given it it's staying power through generations.
granted... and I'd go further... maybe the millions that have put their hearts and souls into studying and revering this text have carved out a useful path up the mountain that give the Bible real power. maybe there's a realness to the Bible (and other sacred texts) that we don't understand (and usually misunderstand).

But I think that these are important topics and questions for you to bring up, because Christ Consciousness is something that has repeatedly come up in the near-death experience, not to mention the lived spiritual experience of many individuals. There may or may not have been a historical Jesus, IMO I just think that you are fighting the wrong battle in trying to argue that the gospels are to be tossed out and are a complete fabrication, with no spiritual gems in them. I think there is a middle way that lines up better with all of the evidence.
agreed... kinda. I'm just saying the we have to look at this Christ Consciousness thing more deeply.
 
#38
Most of us are here to hear more on epistemological issues, especially those related to consciousness. I don't mind related topics like synchronicity, reincarnation research, PK, etc. either. And, I am not complaining about the topic of this show, just the tangent on Christianity.

What I don't care about is religion. The internet is full of debates revolving around religion (be it religion vs. religion or religion v. atheism), which are boring as hell and dull by this point. I'm sure that if a poll was held, religion would rank pretty low among the list of topics that interest the listeners of this podcast.
I think the religion topic could be a lot more interesting if we moved off the religion bashing and moved rather to something like what can we get out of religion today that is still useful. Or, what is universally true through all religions, i.e. talk about comparative mythology. Like how have religions/myths transformed through time, because this also reflects how consciousness has transformed over the ages. And, of course, like Dean Radin did in his recent book, what does religion have to say about psi/ndes. We can leave our personal negative experiences with modern religion out of it, forget our oppressive upbringings, and just look at the bigger picture. Now, that could make for some cool podcasts, which I think we've had here and there. Bernardo's most recent Skeptiko podcast on his new book comes to mind. As well as Don DeGracia (if I'm remember the name correctly)
 
#39
Personally I think that a certain specific type of religious bashing is still helpful and potentially;y even necessary for progress. Specifically the very idea of a supreme being or a God. As it merely comes down to obeying someone because they're more powerful than you. Or believing something is true because the believers outnumber the unbelievers. Or liking something because it's the winning side. As far as I'm concerned anyone who believes that it's possible for anything to be intrinsically superior to themselves is an abject coward who drags themselves down and by extension holds back those around them. It's one thing to believe that someone is more skilled than you are in some area that you haven't studied in as long as they have but that doesn't make them "better" than you. It certainly doesn't give them authority over you in any way, shape, or form. Yet even here on the Skeptiko forums I run across religious ideas like "the greater good."

My girlfriend likes to phrase the question like this: "If Hitler had superpowers, would you become a Nazi? And if your answer is no, then why not?"

All this boils down to one basic question... Does it matter?

Does it matter whether or not Jesus or [insert religious figure here] existed? Does it matter if there really is a Christ consciousness or whatever? Does it matter if there's entities out there capable of affecting the physical world in one way or another? Does it matter if someone purposely created this universe? does it matter if someone or something else set up your life as a learning experience for a lesson they think you need to learn? Etcetera, etcetera.

Is the mere existence of things reason enough to care about them?

As far as I'm concerned the answer is a resounding no. Both I and my girlfriend have had numerous experiences with people claiming to be superior beings via what would probably be classed as astral projection. Some of these people have been able to do some pretty crazy things to us in the physical world as proof, namely physically injure us for daring not to think ourselves lower than them. She in particular has an especially hilarious story about one encounter but I'll leave that for her to tell if she ever chooses to join the Skeptiko forums.

I'm attempting to train myself to use "magic" by my own definition, it's my life, I don't know what Gordon's definition of "Chaos Magick" is but from the questions Alex seems to be keying up for him and the discussions in this thread I'm kinda doubting it compares to mine. I train magic partially because of the bad encounters I've had with some spirits. I would argue that at least 90% of my current capabilities and any future gains I make will be because of my attitude. My unwillingness to settle and "accept reality." My unwillingness to go "Oh well that guy says he's a God and he told me that attempting to gain magic went against the 'greater good' so I guess I gotta stop now." And my unwillingness to stop even when those same "benevolent" spirits repeatedly attempted to physically prevent us from achieving certain things.

I personally believe that until people understand that they own themselves and they are reponsible for their own choices in life whether they like it or not, we're never going to get anywhere with this stuff. Everyone's just going to continue arguing about who's to blame or trying to prove or disprove the existence of one thing or another as if it really changes much of anything.

Personally I believe it's more effective to think about what you want in the world and then try to achieve that regardless of whether it appears to exist or not. You'd have to do the exact same scientific tests to achieve the whole thing that you'd have to do just to see if small parts of it even exist. So why would you put so much weight on mere existence alone? It makes no sense whatsoever.
 
#40
Specifically the very idea of a supreme being or a God. As it merely comes down to obeying someone because they're more powerful than you. Or believing something is true because the believers outnumber the unbelievers. Or liking something because it's the winning side.
That's an incredibly crass idea of a deity. How about the finest aspirations of man, with all the spite and fear removed, multiplied to perfection. That more closely reflects God NDErs claim to have contact with.

One of the biggest drivers of the Atheist project is an inability to imagine anything better than themselves, indeed, to utterly reject the suggestion that there can be such a thing. I listened to one of Stephen Fry's polemics at the weekend, which boiled down to him saying he was an incredibly loving and generous person, so how dare anyone criticise him? People can be remarkably forgiving of their own failings, while being keen to expose those of others. He went on to say of course sexuality can get complicated and dark because it's one of the principle human drives, then criticised people who remained celibate. Like so many vocal atheists, the perfect deity would be someone rather like themselves!

That doesn't sound like human perfection to me, but a remarkable lack of self awareness. I want a God much better than Stephen Fry.
 
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