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Odd Top 100 Influential List of Historic People


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7 minutes ago, Actinguy said:

As with previous lists, let's see how many have actually popped up on my radar as a Public School educated American who specialized in a career field that didn't require knowing about almost any of these people.  My half-joking theory is that if you somehow break through my wall of ignorance, you must be important!  ;c)

Things I know about...

The 100 Most Significant Figures

  1. Jesus - Son of God, virgin birth, inspired Christianity, was Jewish, carpenter, friends with fishermen, walked on water, water into wine, served a bajillion people with a loaf of bread and some fish, Crucifixion, rose from the dead.  (Not that I necessarily believe all these things, but he's certainly entered my radar as an alleged person of note, as I was raised Catholic).
     
  2. Napoleon - French, military, had a funny hat, was short.  Roughly late 1700's, early 1800's.  Mostly a joke now, but was Emperor in his time.  Ended up on an island?
     
  3. Muhammad - Inspired the Muslim faith, I think.  Divisions about whether he was an actual angel type figure or just an inspiring person is a key part of the rift between the various Muslim sects.  I think.  I used to know more about this when I was getting ready to deploy to Iraq, but I've been back for more than 10 years now so it's become a foggy distant memory.  My wife, daughter, and I count a Muslim family on our street among our closest friends, but while we do discuss politics in cultural differences (husband was born in Egypt, wife in Lebanon, kids were born here), we don't particularly discuss religion.
     
  4. William Shakespeare - Celebrated playwright.  This is arguably more my field as I did major in theater before I sold out and went into corporate communications.  That said, my focus was on more modern storytelling.  I've read his most obvious hits such as Romeo & Juliet, but didn't dive past the surface.  I have actually been to the house where he grew up though, so I know it was Stratford-upon-Avon.  Wore a goofy collar.  One of my favorite plays, Rosencrantz & Guildenstern are Dead, is a parody of Hamlet.  
     
  5. Abraham Lincoln - 16th President, Illinois, log cabin.  Wife Martha was a bit off.  Debates with Stephen Douglas.  First Republican President, 1861-1865.  Presided over the Civil War.  Emancipation Proclamation.  His final State of the Union speech contained challenge to "Care for him who shall have borne the battle," which is now the motto of the VA.  "Four score and seven years ago..."  Assassinated by John Wilkes Booth, while watching Our American Cousin with his wife and a General.  Lost at least one child before he was assassinated, and another shortly thereafter -- but ironically his only child to live into adulthood was saved from certain death by John Wilkes Booth's older brother, prior to the assassination, in one of my favorite insane coincidences of all time.  Grew a beard after becoming President because a young girl suggested it in a letter.  Wore a top hat, exceptionally tall.
     
  6. George Washington - First president, Virginian, wooden teeth, General.  Had no sons except for the children he adopted from his wife Martha's first marriage.  May have become sterile from an illness he was exposed to while taking his brother to the Caribbean.  Generally a good man with the best of intentions for our nation, but it cannot be ignored in modern day his treatment of Native Americans or the fact that he was a slave owner.  Crossed the Delaware on Christmas eve, though not standing in the boat as paintings suggest.  
     
  7. Adolf Hitler - Nazi, goofy mustache.  Mein Kampf.  Atrocities against the Jews, Holocaust, Concentration camps.  Wanted to recreate the German Empire after WWI, leading to WWII.  Inspiring speaker, apparently (I don't speak German so I can't really tell, but obviously people felt inspired).  Wanted to be a painter.  He and his new bride committed suicide in a bunker.  The go-to reference when you want to say someone is doing a bad thing.
     
  8. Aristotle - Philospher who I studied in college but promptly forgot everything about.  Greek.
     
  9. Alexander the Great - I want to say he was Greek but I also want to say he was a major figure in the expansion of the Roman empire.  Not actually sure.  Both, maybe?
     
  10. Thomas Jefferson - Third President, Virginian.  Tall.  Red head?  Wrote the Declaration of Independence, played the violin.  Married to Martha but also fathered children with his slave, Sally.  Designed Monticello.  A man of many talents.  Made the Louisiana Purchase even though it went against his beliefs.  Preferred an agrarian country, favored the French revolution.  Was also John Adams' VP.
     
  11. King Henry VIII - King of England.  Is he the one who kept killing his wives for giving him daughters instead of sons (even though gender actually comes from the father, not the mother)?
     
  12. Charles Darwin - Founder of the Theory of Evolution.  During a boat right down the west coast of Africa, I think?  Had a beard.  British?
     
  13. Queen Elizabeth I - Queen of England.  Her name was Elizabeth.  The first one!  (Is this the current Queen of England?  I think the current Queen's name might be Elizabeth, but I don't know if she is the first or not.)
     
  14. Karl Marx - Wrote the book on communism, though I'm blanking on the book's name.
     
  15. Julius Caesar - Roman Emperor.  "Friends, Romans, Countrymen, lend me your ears..."  Killed in a conspiracy.  "Et tu, Brute?"  Admittedly, everything I know about him comes from a Shakespeare play that I only vaguely remember.  Inspired (or maybe made?) the 12 month calendar we use today.  Also I think maybe C-section births are named after him?
     
  16. Queen Victoria - Queen of England in the 1800s.  The Victorian Era is named after her.
     
  17. Martin Luther - Religious reforms, though I don't know what they were.  I remember something about pinning declarations to doors, maybe?  I imagine Lutherans must be named after him, but I don't know what their beliefs specifically are.
     
  18. Joseph Stalin - Russian.  Was he over the USSR during WWII?
     
  19. Albert Einstein - E=MC(2)  Crazy hair, mustache.  Brilliant in ways that I don't understand, science is probably my weakest subject.  I want to say he was a physicist.  German, but came to America around WWII time.  I think.  
     
  20. Christopher Columbus - "Founded the new world", but not really, as it had already been found by Amerigo Vespucci and also Vikings and of course there were already people here when he found it regardless.  Columbus Day is named after him, though there's a movement to replace this with something like "Native American Day" to push back against his legacy due to various atrocities.  His ships were Nina, Pinta, Santa Maria.  Landed in the Caribbean multiple times, never actually stepped foot on the US mainland.
     
  21. Isaac Newton - Discovered gravity when an apple fell on his head, though I"ve got to imagine that's some kind of old wife's tale and that he's actually notable for much more than an apple in the science community.
     
  22. Charlemagne - Roman emperor?  I've heard the name, but don't know anything more than that half-guess.
     
  23. Theodore Roosevelt - Was a cowboy in the Dakotas, a Police Chief in New York.  Would walk around at night in a disguise (wearing a cape, actually, I think?) to catch bad guys during his Police Chief days.  Was he also rooting out corruption as a Port collector?  I might be mixing up that part with another President.  I believe he was named VP because corrupt people thought that would be the best way to get rid of him...but then he inherited the Presidency when McKinley died.  (Again, I might be mixing that up with another President).  Established National Parks, was a big game hunter.  Got shot, bullet lodged in the speech he had in his pocket, still finished the speech.  Promised to run for only one term, and then endorsed his protege Howard Taft -- but then felt Taft's Presidency was an embarrassment  and ran against Taft's re-nomination efforts.  Lost the nomination so he founded the Bull Moose Party, which played spoiler and caused Taft to lose to...Woodrow Wilson, maybe?
     
  24. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart - Music composer.  
     
  25. Plato - Philosopher?  Scientist?  Both?  Most of what I know about him comes from an Indiana Jones computer game, so probably mostly made up.
     
  26. King Louis XIV - French.  Was he a Capet?
     
  27. Ludwig van Beethoven - Music composer.  Beethoven's fifth.  Namesake of the dog in those Beethoven movies.
     
  28. Ulysses S. Grant - 18th President after Lincoln & Johnson.  Failed at everything else he did in life, but found his calling while serving in the Civil War.  Became General and was ultimately responsible for our successful victory in that war.  Unfortunately, his Presidency was less successful as he relied heavily on friends who were largely corrupt.
     
  29. Leonardo da Vinci - Ninja turtle!  Haha.  No, he was an artist.  Drew that picture of a man in various poses.  Sometimes appears in works of historical fiction as an inventor with flying machines or turning mundane objects into gold, but I don't know whether that's based on anything real about his life or interests.
     
  30. Emperor Augustus - I have never heard of this person in my entire life.
     
  31. Carl Linnaeus - Does not exist.
     
  32. Ronald Reagan - Actor.  Started in radio as a sports announcer.  Had a technical difficulty during one sports game he was announcing remotely via radio, where he stopped receiving updates on the game but had to keep announcing it as if he was there so he made up stuff for a long time until the updates started coming in again.  Played "The Gipper" in a movie, creating the line "Win one for the Gipper" that was referenced again in his political career.  Presided over the actor's union during the Red Scare  Met one of his wives because she was an actress who was born with the same name as a more famous actress, so he was advising her to change hers.  (Can't remember if that was his first wife, or Nancy).  Got a job as a GE spokesman, became really good at crafting his message for each audience of factory workers.  Became Governor of California, ran against President Ford for the nomination and narrowly lost, but was nominated the following election in 1980.  HW Bush was his main opponent and then VP.  "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall."  Space race, collapse of the soviet union.  Iran Contra scandal.  Suffered from Alzheimers.  Was our oldest President before Trump.  Died while I was in boot camp in 2004.
     
  33. Charles Dickens - British author.  A christmas carol, among others.
     
  34. Saint Paul - No idea.
     
  35. Benjamin Franklin - Writer, inventor, farmer?, founding father.  Had gout.  Wanted the Turkey to be our national bird.  Pennsylvanian.  Was originally in favor of slavery, but had become a strong abolitionist prior to his death shortly after Washington became President. Invented bifocals, some kind of stove, used a key on a kite to experiment with electricity.  

    Ok, this was fun at first but now I'm bored.  Haha.  I'll leave it there.

Interesting to read nonetheless. I like to see what people know about historical figures. Since I read encyclopedias to go to sleep, I knew the basics about all of these people by 5th grade. However, this was balanced out about being completely oblivious to popular culture, social norms, etc. (i.e. I didn't have high-functioning autism, but my ignorance of things in my early years made it seem as such at the time). I was constantly day-dreaming. I remember daydreaming on how I would save the Romanovs if I went back in time, for instance. 

As for your "no ideas":

Saint Paul did more for the spread of Christianity than Jesus. The New Testament is more of a book on Paul than Jesus. 

Carl Linneaus is the genus and species guy (Homo sapiens, Mimus polyglottus), etc. 

Emperor Augustus was the nephew and adopted son of Julius Caesar and the first Emperor of Rome. He was also the longest serving Emperor of Rome. 

You seemed to have a vague idea of the rest, but I can let you know about the others if you are curious.  

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1 minute ago, vcczar said:

Interesting to read nonetheless. I like to see what people know about historical figures. Since I read encyclopedias to go to sleep, I knew the basics about all of these people by 5th grade. However, this was balanced out about being completely oblivious to popular culture, social norms, etc. (i.e. I didn't have high-functioning autism, but my ignorance of things in my early years made it seem as such at the time). I was constantly day-dreaming. I remember daydreaming on how I would save the Romanovs if I went back in time, for instance. 

As for your "no ideas":

Saint Paul did more for the spread of Christianity than Jesus. The New Testament is more of a book on Paul than Jesus. 

Carl Linneaus is the genus and species guy (Homo sapiens, Mimus polyglottus), etc. 

Emperor Augustus was the nephew and adopted son of Julius Caesar and the first Emperor of Rome. He was also the longest serving Emperor of Rome. 

You seemed to have a vague idea of the rest, but I can let you know about the others if you are curious.  

Thanks!  Yeah, the only person I've actually studied outside of...at best...reading Wikipedia articles about them was Ronald Reagan.  I made it about half way through his autobiography a few years ago.  

Most of what I know about our founding fathers comes from musicals such as 1776 and Hamilton, which is to say they are fictionalized of course.  I am currently reading a book about Washington, which is interesting but I'm still in the very early pages of it.  I think, off the top of my head, it was written by the same guy who wrote the book the Hamilton musical is based off of.

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Just now, admin_270 said:

???

We have four books of the New Testament that are specifically on Jesus. Most of the rest are Paul talking about himself or are his own interpretations of Jesus. 

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27 minutes ago, Actinguy said:

 

Jesus - Son of God, virgin birth, inspired Christianity, was Jewish, carpenter, friends with fishermen, walked on water, water into wine, served a bajillion people with a loaf of bread and some fish, Crucifixion, rose from the dead.  (Not that I necessarily believe all these things, but he's certainly entered my radar as an alleged person of note, as I was raised Catholic).I also want to say he was a major figure in the expansion of the Roman empire.  Not actually sure.  Both, maybe?
 

Saint Paul - No idea.

12 minutes ago, admin_270 said:

???

9 minutes ago, vcczar said:

We have four books of the New Testament that are specifically on Jesus. Most of the rest are Paul talking about himself or are his own interpretations of Jesus. 

At least of the 27 arbitrarily declared the "definitively accepted and canonically Gospels and Epistles," by the Nicene Council, convened about 300 years after the Death, Resurrection, and Ascension of Christ (and only a few decades more recent from the Martyrdom of Paul), which was assembled under the auspices of Constantine I (the Great), the first Christian Roman Emperor, who, by bringing Christianity from it's humble, communitarian, and often underground roots, to the State Religion of one of the two most powerful nations in the world at the time (alongside Han Dynasty China) completely, and permanently changed the tenor of Christianity - and, in my strong opinion, for the worse and away from Christ's Ministry in so many important ways.

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1 minute ago, vcczar said:

We have four books of the New Testament that are specifically on Jesus. Most of the rest are Paul talking about himself or are his own interpretations of Jesus. 

It's certainly true that Paul makes a large contribution to the New Testament. My King James New Testament is 384 pages. The Gospels take up 175 pages. Paul's letters are p. 226 to 334, so 108 pages. 108/384 is 28%. Although it's true Paul's letters take up about half of the non-Gospel text, it makes no sense to say the New Testament is more about Paul than Jesus.

 

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5 minutes ago, admin_270 said:

It's certainly true that Paul makes a large contribution to the New Testament. My King James New Testament is 384 pages. The Gospels take up 175 pages. Paul's letters are p. 226 to 334, so 108 pages. 108/384 is 28%. Although it's true Paul's letters take up about half of the non-Gospel text, it makes no sense to say the New Testament is more about Paul than Jesus.

 

This^

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38 minutes ago, Actinguy said:

Martin Luther - Religious reforms, though I don't know what they were.  I remember something about pinning declarations to doors, maybe?  I imagine Lutherans must be named after him, but I don't know what their beliefs specifically are.

My favorite historical joke about Martin Luther is that he wanted to divorce his wife and the Catholic Church wouldn't let him so he went and founded his own.

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9 minutes ago, admin_270 said:

It's certainly true that Paul makes a large contribution to the New Testament. My King James New Testament is 384 pages. The Gospels take up 175 pages. Paul's letters are p. 226 to 334, so 108 pages. 108/384 is 28%. Although it's true Paul's letters take up about half of the non-Gospel text, it makes no sense to say the New Testament is more about Paul than Jesus.

 

I don't think so. There were many many gospels that were not included in the Bible. It took a couple hundred year or so to determine what belong in the bible. The New Testament is often considered a work of Pauline Christianity, since he is over represented. Theologians also argue that the Jesus gospels are written in a Pauline lens because they were likely written after Paul's letters and under the influence of them. The Book of Mark is arguably the only gospel that predates Paul's earliest letter from what I remember. 

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14 minutes ago, SilentLiberty said:

My favorite historical joke about Martin Luther is that he wanted to divorce his wife and the Catholic Church wouldn't let him so he went and founded his own.

I think the historically inept brunt of that joke means Henry VIII. Martin Luther actually got married after founding his church absolving his vows of celibacy and chastity as a monk as a non-Biblically-backed Catholic conceit and power scheme. :P

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25 minutes ago, admin_270 said:

It's certainly true that Paul makes a large contribution to the New Testament. My King James New Testament is 384 pages. The Gospels take up 175 pages. Paul's letters are p. 226 to 334, so 108 pages. 108/384 is 28%. Although it's true Paul's letters take up about half of the non-Gospel text, it makes no sense to say the New Testament is more about Paul than Jesus.

 

 

12 minutes ago, vcczar said:

I don't think so. There were many many gospels that were not included in the Bible. It took a couple hundred year or so to determine what belong in the bible. The New Testament is often considered a work of Pauline Christianity, since he is over represented. Theologians also argue that the Jesus gospels are written in a Pauline lens because they were likely written after Paul's letters and under the influence of them. The Book of Mark is arguably the only gospel that predates Paul's earliest letter from what I remember. 

 

21 minutes ago, SilentLiberty said:

This^

Page, or even letter, count, is considered a weak to even non-existent argument, inherently, to "impact and influence," of different writers of scripture among religious scholars. Also, again, the non-Nicene Gospels and Epistles have to taken into account when viewing the "full writings of the Apostolic era and the Early Church," and the full tenor of beliefs and viewpoints at that time. The Nicene Council was very arbitrary, and even politicized, when they cut the "official," books down to 27.

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32 minutes ago, vcczar said:

I don't think so. There were many many gospels that were not included in the Bible. It took a couple hundred year or so to determine what belong in the bible. The New Testament is often considered a work of Pauline Christianity, since he is over represented. Theologians also argue that the Jesus gospels are written in a Pauline lens because they were likely written after Paul's letters and under the influence of them. The Book of Mark is arguably the only gospel that predates Paul's earliest letter from what I remember. 

Paul is almost certainly 'over represented' in the New Testament - again, his letters make up 28% of it. It does not follow that 'the New Testament is more of a book on Paul than Jesus' from this, though. Your second claim is very vague. There is much contention about the dating of the Gospels, authorship, and influence. Some theologians argue all sorts of things. Is it possible that Paul had a strong influence on the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and John? Sure ... but that's not a very strong statement.

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25 minutes ago, Patine said:

 

 

Page, or even letter, count, is considered a weak to even non-existent argument, inherently, to "impact and influence," of different writers of scripture among religious scholars. Also, again, the non-Nicene Gospels and Epistles have to taken into account when viewing the "full writings of the Apostolic era and the Early Church," and the full tenor of beliefs and viewpoints at that time. The Nicene Council was very arbitrary, and even politicized, when they cut the "official," books down to 27.

Bishop Iraneus made this argument for including only 4 gospels, "As there are four corners of the earth, so should there be four gospels," or something along those lines. 

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1 hour ago, Patine said:

Page, or even letter, count, is considered a weak to even non-existent argument, inherently, to "impact and influence,"

Of course - and I didn't say anything contrary. VCCzar claimed the New Testament was more a book on Paul than Jesus. If you have a book of history, which is 1,000 pages long, all about Julius Caesar, but 280 pages of it is about Julius Caesar but written by a specific historian, is that book more about Julius Caesar or the specific historian who wrote 28% of the book?

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4 minutes ago, admin_270 said:

Of course - and I didn't saying anything contrary. VCCzar claimed the New Testament was more a book on Paul than Jesus. If you have a book of history, which is 1,000 pages long, all about Julius Caesar, but 280 pages of it is about Julius Caesar but written by a specific historian, is that book more about Julius Caesar or the specific historian who wrote 28% of the book?

Guys, I took it to be hyperbole.  I did not get the impression vcczar had conducted a word count regarding words about Paul versus words against Jesus.

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38 minutes ago, Patine said:

I think the historically inept brunt of that joke means Henry VIII. Martin Luther actually got married after founding his church absolving his vows of celibacy and chastity as a monk as a non-Biblically-backed Catholic conceit and power scheme. :P

Oops!

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2 minutes ago, admin_270 said:

Paul is almost certainly 'over represented' in the New Testament - again, his letters make up 28% of it. It does not follow that 'the New Testament is more of a book on Paul than Jesus' from this, though. Your second claim is very vague. There is much contention about the dating of the Gospels, authorship, and influence. Some theologians argue all sorts of things. Is it possible that Paul had a strong influence on the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and John? Sure ... but that's not a very strong statement.

I wonder what the argument is then that the New Testament is more Jesus than Pauline Christian. One can also use the Jamesian Christian argument that what James the Brother of Jesus was, so too was Jesus. If that's the case, then the entire Hellenic overtones of the New Testament version of Christianity was contrived by Paul and his allies. Evidence of James, which is actually stronger than evidence of Jesus, shows Messianic Jewish leader that is a strict adherent to Judaism and one that is clearly the leader of the remaining followers of Jesus, if one is to trust Paul's letters. He appears to break from them when they don't welcome him the way that he wanted to be welcomed once Paul arrives in Jerusalem. Paul clearly develops a Hellenized Christianity as he spread around Roman controlled Greek-speaking lands. In the process, he breaks some major tenents of Judaism. For instance, the whole concept of the Communion would be sacrileges to a devout Jew (consider Judaism's view on blood as an impure pollutant, especially when consuming), which both Jesus and James would have been. 

Basically, without Paul or Paul's influence, we don't have a New Testament. It was basically codified by his followers and allies with Paul and his visions and interpretations of Jesus being the center of the New Testament. 

Obviously, if someone is of faith and devout, rather than of faith and critical, they'll believe what they are told about the origins of Christianity and the New Testament. 

For anyone wanting to read some good books, I recommend the following:

  • Misquoting Jesus by Ehrmann
  • James the Brother of Jesus by Eisenman
  • The New Testament Code by Eisenman (Terrible title. The author told me he was forced to use that title by the publishers )
  • Christ, Satan, and the Sacred by Pagels
  • Gnostic Gospels by Pagels
  • The Gospel of Jesus by the Jesus Seminar
  • Rabbi Paul by Chilton
  • Rabbi Jesus by Chilton
  • Jesus and Yahweh, the Names Divine by Bloom
  • The Historical Jesus by Crossan
  • Jesus the Terrorist by Cresswell (the book isn't as antagonistic as the title. It's how Romans would have viewed him). 
  • Josephus's books (for references to James. Jesus is barely mentioned. Paul is not mention at all). 
  • Obviously, the New Testament

I've probably read twice as many books on this subject, but I can't recall the rest off the top of my head. One of the more interesting books was by the director of Robocop. He had been planning on making a movie about the "historical" life of Jesus, but then decided to just write a book about it. He explains, if I remember correctly, how he would direct it. 

One thing that these books have in common is that directly or indirectly make the case that Paul influence on the New Testament is paramount. In fact, one could take away all the words Jesus says in the New Testament and we'd still have a New Testament. It seems less required that Jesus speak, as he can just be interpreted. If you toss out all of Paul and his followers, then you have no religion, you just have four pack of somewhat overlapping biographies of a Jewish messiah with no authorative interpretation. 

This said, I don't want to get into a religious war on the thread, as I'm sure I'm offending people. I'm personally agnostic with the wish that a Heaven exists for my friends and family. The deciding factor for me in "faith" was that I knew I was only believing because I was afraid of Hell and wanted to be in Heaven. This made God seem like a master blackmailer or that my soul was hostage to a sense of forced or pretended belief. I didn't really believe as if Heaven/Hell didn't exist, I'd have no incentive to worship God. I certainly couldn't voluntarily worship God, considering how imperfect, evil, and non-interventionist God is during calamities. If God is good and infallable, I shouldn't be able to concieve that I or good-hearted people could make for a better God if given the powers of God. It should be so obvious as to never question His power. 

However, as so many people believe in a God, and I can't disprove the existence, outside of having never seen or felt God around me, then I'll say I'm agnostic. However, the real thing is, I don't think much about God unless he's brough up in a forum like this. I can go months without thinking about him or whether he should or should not exist. 

If he brings happiness to the good, the poor, and the suffering, then that's for the best. I have no problem for that. It's comparable to me having no interest for NASCAR racing, but being happy for my friends that are into NASCAR racing when they get to go see a race.

Sorry for the tangents. I'm multitasking on work and such in the middle of typing this. Hopefully it all make sense.

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4 minutes ago, vcczar said:

I wonder what the argument is then that the New Testament is more Jesus than Pauline Christian. One can also use the Jamesian Christian argument that what James the Brother of Jesus was, so too was Jesus. If that's the case, then the entire Hellenic overtones of the New Testament version of Christianity was contrived by Paul and his allies. Evidence of James, which is actually stronger than evidence of Jesus, shows Messianic Jewish leader that is a strict adherent to Judaism and one that is clearly the leader of the remaining followers of Jesus, if one is to trust Paul's letters. He appears to break from them when they don't welcome him the way that he wanted to be welcomed once Paul arrives in Jerusalem. Paul clearly develops a Hellenized Christianity as he spread around Roman controlled Greek-speaking lands. In the process, he breaks some major tenents of Judaism. For instance, the whole concept of the Communion would be sacrileges to a devout Jew (consider Judaism's view on blood as an impure pollutant, especially when consuming), which both Jesus and James would have been. 

Basically, without Paul or Paul's influence, we don't have a New Testament. It was basically codified by his followers and allies with Paul and his visions and interpretations of Jesus being the center of the New Testament. 

Obviously, if someone is of faith and devout, rather than of faith and critical, they'll believe what they are told about the origins of Christianity and the New Testament. 

For anyone wanting to read some good books, I recommend the following:

  • Misquoting Jesus by Ehrmann
  • James the Brother of Jesus by Eisenman
  • The New Testament Code by Eisenman (Terrible title. The author told me he was forced to use that title by the publishers )
  • Christ, Satan, and the Sacred by Pagels
  • Gnostic Gospels by Pagels
  • The Gospel of Jesus by the Jesus Seminar
  • Rabbi Paul by Chilton
  • Rabbi Jesus by Chilton
  • Jesus and Yahweh, the Names Divine by Bloom
  • The Historical Jesus by Crossan
  • Jesus the Terrorist by Cresswell (the book isn't as antagonistic as the title. It's how Romans would have viewed him). 
  • Josephus's books (for references to James. Jesus is barely mentioned. Paul is not mention at all). 
  • Obviously, the New Testament

I've probably read twice as many books on this subject, but I can't recall the rest off the top of my head. One of the more interesting books was by the director of Robocop. He had been planning on making a movie about the "historical" life of Jesus, but then decided to just write a book about it. He explains, if I remember correctly, how he would direct it. 

One thing that these books have in common is that directly or indirectly make the case that Paul influence on the New Testament is paramount. In fact, one could take away all the words Jesus says in the New Testament and we'd still have a New Testament. It seems less required that Jesus speak, as he can just be interpreted. If you toss out all of Paul and his followers, then you have no religion, you just have four pack of somewhat overlapping biographies of a Jewish messiah with no authorative interpretation. 

This said, I don't want to get into a religious war on the thread, as I'm sure I'm offending people. I'm personally agnostic with the wish that a Heaven exists for my friends and family. The deciding factor for me in "faith" was that I knew I was only believing because I was afraid of Hell and wanted to be in Heaven. This made God seem like a master blackmailer or that my soul was hostage to a sense of forced or pretended belief. I didn't really believe as if Heaven/Hell didn't exist, I'd have no incentive to worship God. I certainly couldn't voluntarily worship God, considering how imperfect, evil, and non-interventionist God is during calamities. If God is good and infallable, I shouldn't be able to concieve that I or good-hearted people could make for a better God if given the powers of God. It should be so obvious as to never question His power. 

However, as so many people believe in a God, and I can't disprove the existence, outside of having never seen or felt God around me, then I'll say I'm agnostic. However, the real thing is, I don't think much about God unless he's brough up in a forum like this. I can go months without thinking about him or whether he should or should not exist. 

If he brings happiness to the good, the poor, and the suffering, then that's for the best. I have no problem for that. It's comparable to me having no interest for NASCAR racing, but being happy for my friends that are into NASCAR racing when they get to go see a race.

Sorry for the tangents. I'm multitasking on work and such in the middle of typing this. Hopefully it all make sense.

And then you go into the next phase of this problem - Constantinian Christianity. Where Constantine I brought the Church from small, humble, communitarian congregations to the State Religion of a massive Empire - bringing concepts as endeavouring to achieve earthly wealth as a goal in life, military and draconian law-enforcement, aggressive and forced conversion, and hierarchical church structures where mortal men can make binding decisions in doctrine as THOUGH they were God or Christ becoming commonplace practices among those of the Christian Church when these things were fervently avoided by the Early Church previously, and counter to the specific Ministry of Christ. And, notably, when the Nicene Council, called under the auspices of Constantine, cut the "official," New Testament books to 27, that is when Pauline writings took pre-dominance.

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A lot in here, but I think the following captures the essence perhaps of the dispute.

9 minutes ago, vcczar said:

In fact, one could take away all the words Jesus says in the New Testament and we'd still have a New Testament.

No, you wouldn't. Jesus' words and actions are the centre of the New Testament.

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16 minutes ago, vcczar said:

I don't think much about God unless he's brough up in a forum like this. I can go months without thinking about him or whether he should or should not exist.

Ever think of the good? Of love in the sense of doing good for others for the sake of the other?

Because that is the concrete definition of God in the Christian tradition. As St. John puts it, God is love.

To me the real question is whether the good exists - or should we be nihilists? If the good exists, and the good in action exists (love), you're getting close to saying something like God exists, IMHO.

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3 minutes ago, admin_270 said:

Ever think of the good? Of love in the sense of doing good for others for the sake of the other?

Because that is the concrete definition of God in the Christian tradition. As St. John puts it, God is love.

To me the real question is whether the good exists - or should we be nihilists? If the good exists, and the good in action exists (love), you're getting close to saying something like God exists, IMHO.

This concept is odd to me. I see good as being independent of God or at least not exclusively tied to him. 

I don't think the absence of God means we lose all meaning either. I think it just means our meaning, if God does not exist or is proven to not exist, will no longer be restricted by God's influence. 

Your last line is what I would want God to be, but I think he falls short, so long as evil and evil in actions seems to be equally present. If God was good in action (love), he'd wipe out evil, even if it makes our lives much more boring and good less noticeable. It's pretty lame if evil was created just to make make good noticeable. It would be like Person A giving Person B a severe brain injury so Person A can seem much more intelligent by comparison. 

21 minutes ago, admin_270 said:

A lot in here, but I think the following captures the essence perhaps of the dispute.

No, you wouldn't. Jesus' words and actions are the centre of the New Testament.

I disagree. As state, I think the New Testament is a Pauline interpretation of Jesus. It's also the reason the New Testament was put together. 

26 minutes ago, Patine said:

And then you go into the next phase of this problem - Constantinian Christianity. Where Constantine I brought the Church from small, humble, communitarian congregations to the State Religion of a massive Empire - bringing concepts as endeavouring to achieve earthly wealth as a goal in life, military and draconian law-enforcement, aggressive and forced conversion, and hierarchical church structures where mortal men can make binding decisions in doctrine as THOUGH they were God or Christ becoming commonplace practices among those of the Christian Church when these things were fervently avoided by the Early Church previously, and counter to the specific Ministry of Christ. And, notably, when the Nicene Council, called under the auspices of Constantine, cut the "official," New Testament books to 27, that is when Pauline writings took pre-dominance.

Apparently, Constantine was hoping to be considered the 13th disciple. 

Pauline writing was pre-dominant before or it wouldn't have gone into the Council to become officially pre-dominant. 

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5 minutes ago, vcczar said:

I disagree. As state, I think the New Testament is a Pauline interpretation of Jesus. It's also the reason the New Testament was put together.

Right, you disagree. I think it's the nub of the disagreement. I think most Christians would agree with me, and consider a New Testament stripped of all the words of Jesus an absurdity.

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6 minutes ago, vcczar said:

This concept is odd to me. I see good as being independent of God or at least not exclusively tied to him. 

I don't think the absence of God means we lose all meaning either. I think it just means our meaning, if God does not exist or is proven to not exist, will no longer be restricted by God's influence. 

Your last line is what I would want God to be, but I think he falls short, so long as evil and evil in actions seems to be equally present. If God was good in action (love), he'd wipe out evil, even if it makes our lives much more boring and good less noticeable. It's pretty lame if evil was created just to make make good noticeable. It would be like Person A giving Person B a severe brain injury so Person A can seem much more intelligent by comparison. 

"I see good as being independent of God or at least not exclusively tied to him."

You seem to be making the mistake of thinking God is merely a being who acts with love. Although correct in a sense, it's incomplete. God *is* love. Where love is, there is God.

"If God was good in action (love), he would wipe out evil totally"

This isn't an argument against God as love, it's an argument against God as love and all-powerful, and where the standard response re free will comes in. Not sure what you're referring to re 'it's pretty lame if evil was created just to make good noticeable'. The standard Christian view is that evil actions were chosen by creatures who were given free will. God didn't want them to so choose, but they did, and that led to Jesus as a way back to union with God (the good).

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2 minutes ago, admin_270 said:

God *is* love. Where love is, there is God.

Says who? There's no convincing argument for this. Does this also imply "Where God is, Love is?" What about the 100+ killing sprees in the Old Testament that God is directly or indirectly to blame? This isn't counting similar things that occured in non-Biblical historical records. If God is always present, then love is always present, if God is love. What love is there in genocide, concentration camps, etc.? Was God not present? If present, and God is love, why did he not act out his name? If he was just fence-sitting during these or watching it like a spectator at a gladiator match, then how can anyone with the least bit conception of love find that God is Love. If he's love, he'd have to live it. Alternatively, there are two loves: love and God as Love. In which case, you have two defintions that sometimes overlap, but the differences are striking. Really there are three loves: Human love, God as Love, and Sincere Love. Human love can fall short just like God's love has. For instance, if someone says they love person A more than Person B through Z, then there's a biased imbalanced, especially if one had to sacrifice Person A to save Persons B through Z, and the love for Person A still prevailed, leading to the deaths of the rest of the world. Sincere love will have qualification or biases. It will act. Sincere Love would stop all catastrophe without question, blind to biases, so long as it has that power to stop what it is trying to stop. If God can't do that or won't do that, then he's either not wholly good, not wholly love,  or not wholly powerful. If he's not these things, is he even God? He's certainly not the embodiment of love based off evidence.

4 minutes ago, admin_270 said:

The standard Christian view is that evil actions were chosen by creatures who were given free will. God didn't want them to so choose, but they did, and that led to Jesus as a way back to union with God (the good).

I don't have a standard Christian view, so this doesn't mean much to me. I was taking part in the argument on the Philosophy of Evil (sometimes called The Problem of Evil), a debate that often sees evil as a necessity in order for good to be a thing. 

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20 minutes ago, vcczar said:

Says who?

It's part of the standard meaning of God within the Christian tradition. It's like me saying part of the definition of a triangle is a shape with 3 angles, and you responding with 'says who?'

23 minutes ago, vcczar said:

There's no convincing argument for this.

It's not an argument, it's a definition. The next question is whether such a being exists. Christians say yes. And that leads to points such as the ones you make, and responses such as 'God gives humans free will'.

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