The Joel on Software Discussion Group (CLOSED)

A place to discuss Joel on Software. Now closed.

This community works best when people use their real names. Please register for a free account.

Other Groups:
Joel on Software
Business of Software
Design of Software (CLOSED)
.NET Questions (CLOSED)
TechInterview.org
CityDesk
FogBugz
Fog Creek Copilot


The Old Forum


Your hosts:
Albert D. Kallal
Li-Fan Chen
Stephen Jones

Computers and Religion

How do you balance working in the computer industry with religion? It seems to me that one requires very precise thinking while the other a leap of faith.
Yoey Send private email
Wednesday, October 06, 2004
 
 
Looking at the level of 99.999% (Look ma, five nines!) of the debates in computerchat, I conclude that there is absolutely no lack of "leap of faith willingness" in computer people. Au contraire: factual analysis seems almost non-existant.
Just me (Sir to you) Send private email
Wednesday, October 06, 2004
 
 
Start a thread on JoS like "Oracle is better than SQL Server", or "should I choose python over perl" and the
answers will tell you that everything has only to
do with faith.
René Nyffenegger
Wednesday, October 06, 2004
 
 
The leaps of faith work great for me everyday at work and I save all my precision stuff for Sunday.
.
Wednesday, October 06, 2004
 
 
Agree with "just me." Thinking is a precious
and conserved resource regardless of the field.
son of parnas
Wednesday, October 06, 2004
 
 
...factual analysis seems almost non-existant...
...everything has only to do with faith...
...The leaps of faith work great for me everyday...
...Thinking is a precious and conserved resource...

Except, of course, that we all know the OP is right, computers need precise thinking, and religion needs a leap of faith.
Daniel Daranas
Wednesday, October 06, 2004
 
 
It's perfectly possible to be very smart and logical in very many areas, but totally shut your brain down when going into "religion mode" and not apply any logic or reasoning at all to your beliefs. I've seen it many times. I'm not sure how they can do it, but that's the way it is.
sid
Wednesday, October 06, 2004
 
 
Easy, computers were made by people, the Universe by God.  Since I am a person I can understand computers.  Just as a dog isn't going to understand calculus, I am not going to understand God.  Religion is our human interface to the API we'll can't understand.
Bill Rushmore Send private email
Wednesday, October 06, 2004
 
 
As nobody else has mentioned it here yet, what about The Matrix, in particular the Architect ?

I always thought it was interesting that the ideas in The Matrix were not incompatible with various religions, nor were they incompatible with science/technology (given suitable advancements).
Nemesis
Wednesday, October 06, 2004
 
 
What about The Matrix? How exactly would that be compatible with e.g. Christianity? The Architecht obviously isn't the god described in the Bible.
sid
Wednesday, October 06, 2004
 
 
Religion is everywhere. Ask God!
But not all is blues. It seems that we learn with the time. The Europeans know, for example, that religion and politics don't mix well.
Dewd
Wednesday, October 06, 2004
 
 
sid "The Architecht obviously isn't the god described in the Bible."

In what way ?
Nemesis
Wednesday, October 06, 2004
 
 
To expand on what sid said, people can go into "religious" mode in any field, computer programming and religion included.  But people can and do use reasoning and logic in any field, including religion.

For some examples: check out the books "Miracles" and "Mere Christianity" by C. S. Lewis.  You may disagree with his premises, and with some hard work you may find holes in his chain of reasoning, but I don't think you'll find any "leaps of faith".  The term "leap of faith" was coined by Kierkegaard in the early 1800's, and the whole concept would be foreign to most believers before (and even after) that time.

For another reasoning person-of-faith try reading Thomas Aquinas from the 13th century.  It will require all the reasoning powers you have.

I view faith, not as an unreasoning "leap", but rather an assent of the will to follow through on the consequences of ideas that I have reasonable evidence for.  I have found it very helpful to give the phrase "I have faith in God" the same meaning as "I have faith in you, my friend" in other words, a judgement of character of a person indicating a willingness to live a certain way in relationship with them.

I am a professional programmer, with a BA in Math, and a conservative Christian.  I don't find any inherent conflict between any of these.
Robert Send private email
Wednesday, October 06, 2004
 
 
"I've seen it many times. I'm not sure how they can do it, but that's the way it is."

Most religions have a deux ex machina (literally) trump card -- when you have an all seeing, all knowing, all empowered god, ultimately anything can be explained in a logical, consistent fashion. Dinosaur bones are nothing but manufactured distractions to filter the nonbelievers.

Mind you personally I'm an agnostic--for those who don't know, agnostics believe that anything is possible, and I personally don't have the information to support or exclude anything: Who knows, maybe there is a giant alien causing hurricanes and with ultimate power over the Earth. I personally am of the belief that a good percentage of members of organized religions are in actuality agnostic and are just socially covering their bases -- how else can you explain priests molesting young boys, for instance. These people proclaim their belief in an all seeing all knowing master, yet they act in an entirely contrary way. It is very difficult to rationalize the talk with the actions.

In many ways I find hardcore atheists just as bizarre as hardcore religion nuts -- Many atheists seem to become just as polarized in their unfounded belief. They just _believe_ something, and they want to spread that belief to others. It really is no different than a cult member.
Dennis Forbes Send private email
Wednesday, October 06, 2004
 
 
As an undergraduate, I studied Late Antique magic. As I often say in interviews, there's a huge similarity between magic and IT.

In both, you act according to abstract systems in order to produce results, but without fully understanding the mechanisms which produce those results.

For example, I understand VBA well enough to make MS Office sing and dance, but have only a vague idea of the mechanism by which it works.

Similarly, the Late Antique magicians used power words (voces magicae) because they thought they worked. However, they could probably debate the actual mechanism into the small hours.

I suspect the religion/IT thing is the same. Once you accept the basic premise, e.g. "VBA controls Office"/"Helping tramps gets you into heaven", then you need intellectual tools to follow through.

Having said that, I think anybody who thinks the End of Times is a Good Idea should not be allowed to vote.
Ghengis Khan
Wednesday, October 06, 2004
 
 
My logical mindedness falters at faith.

I'm not quite agnostic... My Baptist upbringing certainly doesn't show through very much though.

The reality is that it is just as naive to think there is a God as it is to think that there isn't.

A core tenet of most major orgnaized religions is that this supreme power will smite you for disbelief.

While I appreciate circular logic, I destest it having been made the basis for so many atrocities in the name of said power. Also, I'd have trouble viewing any being as 'supreme' if that being created such large numbers of people knowing full well they were damned from birth due to their lack of exposure to whatever doctrine is in question.

Furthermore, I believe absolution of sin can be nothing more than absolution of conscience. Afterall, you can never be sure your God won't smote you, for whatever reason.... But the reassurance that he is on your side is comforting.

Therefore, it leads me to question whether such absolution is altogether a good thing rather than a harbinger of future ill will towards your fellow man.

I'm forgiven! Adultery, anyone??
I am Jack's religious rhetoric
Wednesday, October 06, 2004
 
 
++But people can and do use reasoning and logic in any field, including religion.

i concur. 

belief that religion cannot be grounded in logic and reasoning is actually the greater leap...
Kenny Send private email
Wednesday, October 06, 2004
 
 
I am really surprised,

People often read Bibles and all sorts of religious books in JAIL/PRISON but not at HOME.
Hope
Wednesday, October 06, 2004
 
 
The significant difference between IT and magic is that one can uderstand IT down to the atomic level if they wanted to.  Is that possible with magic?

Wednesday, October 06, 2004
 
 
I think the West needs a perspective. Seems like they already have pre-concieved notions about the purpose of religion. What is religion, OP? Going to Sunday School? Celibacy? Praying before an idol? "Fearing" God, the basis of the "faith" you are asking about? Ritual?

Sadly, all of that has assumed the conotation. There are lots of people for whom religion is all of that I just said above. On that accord, I am not religious at all, and I would not want to be. I would not want to subscribe to an authority that says, "Do good, or you'll be punished. Accept Him! He will redeem you of your sins." We are given to ourselves - sinners we are. Holy Crap! But that religion, is not true religion. It is based on fear and superstition. And your question was just that - how do you balance superstition and science. Right?

Let me tell you. Religion, true religion is a science. It is the science of self-inquiry. It has nothing whatsoever to do with going to the Church, or with Christ, or Buddha or any Hindu diety. It has nothing to do with the concept of Godhood. Heck, it has nothing to do with concepts at all. Concepts are mere intellectual material. Religion, the religion of self-inquiry starts with intellectual stimulation or of using the intellect to query oneself, but soon the instruments of inquiry surpass the intellect into the realm of experience. For distinction, let me not call this religion, religion at all. The word religion has so much been corrupted by an influence of dogma on its conotation that I don't want to call "the science of self-inquiry" religion any more. Let me call it spiritualism.

So spiritualism is the science of the Self. And I am a spiritual person, not religious at all. And I am a developer. But one does not have to be a developer to be a spiritualist. You can be anybody. The only qualification of being a spiritual person is that you seek to find the answers to your own mental restlessness, the answers to acquittal from pain, and bondage of desire, through self-meditation, and scientific, self-inquiry/introspection.

If you are sensitive enough to feel the void in yourself, that void which compels us to find redemption from it in every action that we perform - whether it be watching a movie, calling a friend on the telephone, or even sex. Or even intellectual pursuits such as mastering the scripture. All of this is escapism. If you are ready to confrnt this vooid on its face, and realize that redemption from this void of loneliness is what drives all our actions, and that the remedy is to be sought elsewhere than outside, then you are a spiritual person. It has nothing to do with faith. On the contrary, it is ALL only about reason. Do not believe anythng that is given, until you reason it. Reason, reason, reason. Beyond reason then, reason alone will lead you to experience, which is the basis of faith. Faith is faith only if it has experience at its root, rather than fear or custom. This spiritualism, it is a science, and your are the subject and the object as well. The first step towards emancipation from this void is to become "aware" of it. For that matter, the first step towards fulfilment of any goal or need is to become aware of the need you have to fulfil it. Need drives us, and we pursue. I realize that I am lonely. No matter what, I just do not have a sense of being loved, protected and being safe. That is what drives me into forums, online communities, programming in spare time (this is also escapism from the apparent boredom and monotony of everyday life, underlyng which is this spiritual malady of the VOID),

The answer to this boredom is, yeah listen carefully, CONCENTRATION. You would notice that when you program, time flies off and you dont get to know. You would notice that you loose self-consciousness (oh! the fan is out of order, no air conditioning in this room, I have a bruise on my leg, i am sitting on a chair on the second floor of this building in Noida, whcih is in Uttar Pradesh in india, in Asia...). Programming is one occupation that gives you a GLIMPSE of the inner joy because it imposes concentration warranted by the complexity of the tasks we perform.

Oh! this is getting too long, and i am getting carried away. The bottom line: OBSERVE! OBSERVE yourself, your own thoughts! That is religion. Religion is emancipation from SEPERATION OF YOURSELF FROM JOY, the source of which is within yourself. There was this quote i read,

"What you are looking for, is what is looking!"
Sathyaish Chakravarthy Send private email
Wednesday, October 06, 2004
 
 
You can argue logically about certain aspects of religion and faith, but in the end it comes down to plain faith. You just can't know, no matter how much sense you think your faith makes. There are others that believe other things than you do, and they believe with the same passion, but everyone cannot be right. How can we determine who is right and who is wrong? We can't, no matter how much you try to apply reason and logic to it. If there's no hard evidence either way, you just cannot know, and you have to decide whether you want to _believe_ or not.

Personally, I'm a skeptic and an atheist. By atheist I don't mean that I _believe_ that there is no god. I don't know. I admit I don't know. I haven't a clue, and I'm probably never going to know. All I know is that I'm not going to pick a religion at random, or pick whatever religion I happened to grow up with, and just decide to believe in it. I have a lack of belief.

Most people who are religious simply adopt the religion that their parents had, or the society they live in. If you live in a Muslim country, chances are you'll be Muslim. Christian country or Christian parents, you'll probably end up a Christian. It's very convenient, and most people never really consider other religions than the only one they really know. I'm sorry, but this is all too random for me.
sid
Wednesday, October 06, 2004
 
 
Jack, specifically in regard to Christians, Hebrews 12.8 says that consistent patterns of sin will be disciplined, else the person is not as they claim.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004
 
 
We can't know everything - so religion is a response to dealing with those unknowns, therefore faith is essential to dealing with those universal issues we have little or no knowledge of.

The problems start when we begin to take ourselves too seriously.
Actively Disengaged
Wednesday, October 06, 2004
 
 
>How can we determine who is right and who is wrong?

Like the blind men and the elephant, we're probably all wrong.  If we could just get together we might be able to get  it right....

cheers
Honu
Wednesday, October 06, 2004
 
 
Somebody asked:
"The significant difference between IT and magic is that one can uderstand IT down to the atomic level if they wanted to.  Is that possible with magic?"

I shouldn't think so (given magic doesn't work). But why would you want to?

You can use logic to manipulate self-consistent abstract systems without understanding or caring how they work.

The big problem with religious people is not irrationality, but that their objectives may diverge somewhat from those of the rest of us thanks to rigorous application of logic to illogical premises.

Who was it said
"Kill them all. God will know his own!"
?
Ghengis Khan
Wednesday, October 06, 2004
 
 
Anytime a person seeks to achieve anything with a computer, I think it begins with a leap of faith.  You just have faith that the compiler will do its thing, the CPU will do its thing, the memory will do its thing.

Ultimately, you have a little faith that you will succeed somewhere down the road in getting your program to work at all.

Any creative endeavor begins with a leap of faith.
AllanL5
Wednesday, October 06, 2004
 
 
++We can't, no matter how much you try to apply reason and logic to it.

granted.  however, this doesn't mean you can't make that application and that's what the OP had issue with.  ie. simply making the conclusion that "you can't know for sure" means that you've applied reasoning to the religion...
Kenny Send private email
Wednesday, October 06, 2004
 
 
---I think the West needs a perspective.---

Sathyaish, I am also an Indian and a hindu. But I hate the statements like west needs a perspective, muslim needs a perspective, you need a perspective.... because what I think is perfectly right!

Point is who are you and me to question any other's faith!?

"The bottom line: OBSERVE! OBSERVE yourself, your own thoughts! That is religion. Religion is emancipation from SEPERATION OF YOURSELF FROM JOY, the source of which is within yourself."

Does not Bible, Kuran and Geeta says the same? what is so new you are saying. It's just that we all are taking different paths to reach the ultimate.
I hate this topic...
Wednesday, October 06, 2004
 
 
"Easy, computers were made by people, the Universe by God".

You state that is if it were a fact. Can you prove it? I know that I can't prove that the universe wasn't made by God.
John Topley Send private email
Wednesday, October 06, 2004
 
 
If you assume something will work, despite the fact that you either didn't or can't implement it, or you haven't verified the implementation, then you're taking a leap of faith.

Use a library without reading the object code?  Use a database without knowing how the rawio mapping works?  Use a computer without understanding transistors, gates, capacitors?  Heck, do you even read every piece of output from your compilers?

We all take leaps of faith every day using computers.  I don't see how the idea that "the computer will take care of this" is any different than "God will provide."  Crisis of faith happen in both arenas.
Art Send private email
Wednesday, October 06, 2004
 
 
> faith is essential to dealing with those universal
> issues we have little or no knowledge of

No, it's not. If there's not enough data for me to form an opinion, I just say I don't know and don't have much of an opinion. I don't know about you, but I don't have to "deal" with everything I don't know. How was the universe created? I have no clue, but that doesn't bother me. I just go on living my life. What happens after we die? How would I know? Why would I need to know? It would be nice if I did, but I'm not going to just pick something to believe that has no basis in reality.
sid
Wednesday, October 06, 2004
 
 
People with no faith must feel a bit empty inside, without faith there is no hope. don't you think?
:-X
Wednesday, October 06, 2004
 
 
1. I see humans as ants, or fish, in a fish bowl.  Just like them, we will never know.  We can look up outside the fish bowl, but never figure out . 

The leap of faith, as I see it, is that humans will ever know that a supreme being exists or does not. 

2.  Religion is used to control others. THere are few religions that do not, for example, use religion to keep women down.  I therefore despise organized religion.
ProjectLead/Nobody
Wednesday, October 06, 2004
 
 
> People with no faith must feel a bit empty inside,
> without faith there is no hope. don't you think?

Seems like you're saying that you _need_ faith. I see people say this all the time. They say they wouldn't be able to get up in the morning if they didn't have faith, because life would be meaningless. So basically the faith is a crutch to get them through a depressing existence.

If that's what you need, good for you. I don't feel that emptiness, so I don't need it.
sid
Wednesday, October 06, 2004
 
 
I would rather approach the world with wide eyed wonder and fascination with the unknown than to satiate curiousity with whatever arbitrary explanation comes along.
Dennis Forbes Send private email
Wednesday, October 06, 2004
 
 
On a related note, "how do you balance working in the computer industry with physical exercise? It seems to me that one requires sitting very still while the other some moving around."

They're different domains, requiring different skills: if God is unknowable, then computers and precise thinking is for dealing with knowable things, and 'religion' is for the unknowable.

> Most people who are religious simply adopt the religion that their parents had, or the society they live in.

There's the parable of the elephant in the dark: three men touch the elephant to find out what it's like; one touches the elephant's leg and says "The elephant is like a tree!"; the second touches the elephant's trunk and says "The elephant is like a snake!"; and the third touches the elephant's ear and says "The elephant is like a sail!"

They're all correct. And I think they would be wrong if they were to try to contradict each other.

Or perhaps it's the opposite: anyone who thinks they know God is mistaken.

> By atheist I don't mean that I _believe_ that there is no god. I don't know.

I would call that agnostic: "a-theist" meaning "without God", whereas "a-gnostic" meaning "without knowledge".

> How do you balance working in the computer industry with religion?

They're not incompatible: you can study and learn about and practice religion[s].

I confess I'm quite attached to Bhuddism, myself: not the worship-in-a-temple religion form of it, but the dharma/system-of-ethics form. I find it logical, e.g. "desire causes suffering, therefore reduce suffering by reducing desire", and extraordinarily analytical (e.g. three jewels, four virtues, the eightfold way, and so on). Therevada might be scientific, in my opinion, scarcely a 'religion' at all (perhaps more like a philosophy), in that it seems (to me at least) experiential or empirical.

Also, since you're asking about "balance", Bhuddism preaches something that it calls "the Middle Way".
Christopher Wells Send private email
Wednesday, October 06, 2004
 
 
++People with no faith must feel a bit empty inside, without faith there is no hope. don't you think?

People with faith must feel like living is pointless since it would have been better to die as a baby and go straight to heaven...

...need a rolleyes icon...
Kenny Send private email
Wednesday, October 06, 2004
 
 
"It's perfectly possible to be very smart and logical in very many areas, but totally shut your brain down when going into "religion mode" and not apply any logic or reasoning at all to your beliefs. I've seen it many times. I'm not sure how they can do it, but that's the way it is."

I have to disagree.

I think the Bible and its message are profound and very logical and reasonable.

Could you site an example where you have to "shut your brain down" with regards to the Scriptures?
Genx'er
Wednesday, October 06, 2004
 
 
On Dr. Dobbs you'll find a bunch of sprituality discussions from various Grand Mufti's... I think Knuth's the only computer person I've heard writes conventionally on this subject, though I don't know what they/he says on the issue.
http://technetcast.ddj.com/tnc_catalog.html?item_id=421
http://www-cs-faculty.stanford.edu/~knuth/things.html

Well, there's the Church of Emacs and various Bob movements, but you know.. ;)

Come to think of it, I'm really interested in seeing if there's good literature out there on the cyberpunk fringe... it really fetishizes technology, and some of it fuses tech with various pagan beliefs. Incidentally, the pagans I've personally met seem to be nice on the average, owing to having unusual religions that the mainstream tends not to accept.
Tayssir John Gabbour Send private email
Wednesday, October 06, 2004
 
 
Genx'er: There is no evidence outisde the bible that Jesus Christ ever existed.
Professor
Wednesday, October 06, 2004
 
 
> "Easy, computers were made by people, the Universe by God".

>You state that is if it were a fact. Can you prove it? I know that I can't prove that the universe wasn't made by God.

No, I can't prove it.  But the fact is who ever created the universe was much smarter than any of us.
Bill Rushmore Send private email
Wednesday, October 06, 2004
 
 
Professor-

Sorry, you're wrong.  Jesus got into a lot of trouble with the Romans.  Quite well documented.


As a side note:
I am always surprised at how people can have such strong opinions on topics they've spent no time researching.

If you think Christianity has no foundation in logic, ask yourself what factual information you're forming this opinion on.  News, gossip, historical scholar's research, ...?
Caffeinated Send private email
Wednesday, October 06, 2004
 
 
> Could you site an example where you have to "shut your
> brain down" with regards to the Scriptures?

Try to reconcile the different stories of Jesus' ressurection, for one. And read up about forgeries in the Bible.
sid
Wednesday, October 06, 2004
 
 
"People with faith must feel like living is pointless since it would have been better to die as a baby and go straight to heaven...

...need a rolleyes icon...

Kenny, I appreciate what you are saying in this post.

You might want to consider that not all Christians believe that everyone is going to heaven. God created man and put him on the Earth for a reason - not just to die and go to heaven one day...

If you take a look at some scriptures you may be surprised to note that the Bible teaches of a future earthly resurrection:

Psalm 37:10,11

10For yet a little while, and the evildoers will be no more; though you look with care where they used to be, they will not be found.(1)
11But the meek [in the end] shall inherit the earth and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.(2)

Psalm 37:29

the righteous will inherit the land
and dwell in it forever.

Proverbs 2:21,22

21For the upright shall dwell in the land, and the men of integrity, blameless and complete [in God's sight], shall remain in it;
22But the wicked shall be cut off from the earth, and the treacherous shall be rooted out of it.

Isaiah 45:18
18 For this is what the LORD says-
he who created the heavens,
he is God;
he who fashioned and made the earth,
he founded it;
he did not create it to be empty,
but formed it to be inhabited-
he says:
"I am the LORD ,
and there is no other.

Matthew 6:9,10

9"This, then, is how you should pray:
  " 'Our Father in heaven,
  hallowed be your name,
    10your kingdom come,
  your will be done
      on earth as it is in heaven.

Luke 23:43

43Jesus replied, "I promise that today you will be with me in paradise." [1]

* paradise: The Greek translation this word refers to Garden of Eden (which is on the Earth)

Take a look...
Genx'er
Wednesday, October 06, 2004
 
 
Caffeinated Send private email
Wednesday, October 06, 2004
 
 
sid-

"Try to reconcile the different stories of Jesus' ressurection, for one. And read up about forgeries in the Bible."

References, please...  I see nothing wrong with the accounts.
Caffeinated Send private email
Wednesday, October 06, 2004
 
 
> I would call that agnostic: "a-theist" meaning "without
> God", whereas "a-gnostic" meaning "without knowledge".

I am without god. I'm not only without knowledge, but if it turns out that the gods existed that are described in the religious scriptures I am aware of, I wouldn't worship them if they did turn out to exist. I don't agree with their actions and teachings.
sid
Wednesday, October 06, 2004
 
 
sid
Wednesday, October 06, 2004
 
 
Professor...

I was under the impression that the Historian Josephus made reference to Jesus in his secular accounts?

http://www.jewsforjudaism.org/web/faq/faq064.html
Genx'er
Wednesday, October 06, 2004
 
 
As for historical references:

http://www.bandoli.no/historicalrecords.htm
sid
Wednesday, October 06, 2004
 
 
Josephus is widely regarded as a forgery. I don't think even Biblical scholars disagree much on that point.
sid
Wednesday, October 06, 2004
 
 
In a class I took with Professor Jonathan Paradise of the University of Minnesota - Twin Cities Campus, there is no extra-biblical evidence of Jesus Christ.

But this isn't an argument against Christianity. The same issues were discussed about the massive migration of Moses and the Israelites out of Egypt, where a whole nation of people who wandered in the desert for 40 years left no archeological remains behind. Again, the only "evidence" is in the bible.

Make of it what you will....
Professor
Wednesday, October 06, 2004
 
 
Professor,

Your ignorance is amazing.  There are many references to Jesus outside of the bible.  Here are a few:

Flavius Josephus (AD 37?-101?, a Jewish historian) mentions John the Baptist and Herod - Antiquities, Book 18, ch. 5, par. 2

Flavius Josephus mentions Jesus - Antiquities, Book 18, ch. 3, par. 3.

Flavius Josephus mentions James, the brother of Jesus - Antiquities, Book 20, ch. 19.

Flavius Josephus mentions Ananias the High Priest who was mentioned in Acts 23:2

Tacitus (A.D. c.55-A.D. c.117, Roman historian) mentions "christus" who is Jesus - Annals

Pliny the Younger mentioned Christ.  Pliny was governor of Bithynia in Asia Minor.  Pliny wrote ten books.  The tenth around AD 112.

The Talmud mentions Yeshu (Jesus) in The Babylonian Talmud, transl. by I. Epstein (London: Soncino, 1935), vol. III, Sanhedrin 43a, p. 281 as cited in Habermas, Gary R., The Historical Jesus: Ancient Evidence for the Life of Christ, (Joplin, MO: College Press Publishing Company) 1996

Lucian (circa 120-after 180) mentions Jesus.  Greek writer and rhetorician. in  The Death of Peregrine, 11–13, in The Works of Lucian of Samosata, transl. by H.W. Fowler and F.G. Fowler, 4 vols. (Oxford: Clarendon, 1949), vol. 4, as cited in Habermas, Gary R., The Historical Jesus: Ancient Evidence for the Life of Christ, (Joplin, MO: College Press Publishing Company) 1996.

Get your facts straight !!!
Arthur Dent
Wednesday, October 06, 2004
 
 
Genx'er: that's why i said "babies".  don't babies go to heaven?  'cause if they go to hell, i think that would be just wrong...
Kenny Send private email
Wednesday, October 06, 2004
 
 
> Tacitus (A.D. c.55-A.D. c.117, Roman historian) mentions "christus" who is Jesus - Annals

That puts Tacitus as having been born a few years after Jesus died. Controversy arises because the Gospels were written after Jesus's death, and somewhat edited over the centuries.

Still, there is plenty of historical evidence for Christians having existed from around that time (which is a reason why "the Church" considers herself important, as being the link between you and Jesus-of-2000-years-ago).
Christopher Wells Send private email
Wednesday, October 06, 2004
 
 
Kenny - I don't believe in a literal Hell.
Genx'er
Wednesday, October 06, 2004
 
 
Christopher Wells,

The reason the gospel was written after Jesus died was because early Christians were under the impression that Jesus' return would be imminent.

This is very clear when reading some of Paul's letters to the Thessalonian church.  The Thessalonians were concerned about members who had died, and whether they would miss Jesus' glorious return.  They felt there was no reason for them to write the Gospels, because Jesus would soon be establishing his kingdom on earth

After some time when it became obvious to them that the end wasn't as soon as they had originally believed, the early church leaders were inspired to documented the life of Christ
Arthur Dent
Wednesday, October 06, 2004
 
 
No problem.
Christopher Wells Send private email
Wednesday, October 06, 2004
 
 
sid-

"Caffeinated, read this:"

Okay.  I read it.  Apparently, it requires faith to believe, as the author provided no facts.

He did provide biblical references (which I will read and cross-reference).  If his argument is so strong, he should have included at least one example or citation.

Most people will read this and say "Yeah!  I told you so!"  Few will actually do the research (which was actually my earlier point).
Caffeinated Send private email
Wednesday, October 06, 2004
 
 
Caffeinated, most people might, but I've actually read the Bible. I figured you had as well, since you believe in it, so I was hoping the link would point you in the right direction for further research.
sid
Wednesday, October 06, 2004
 
 
Genx'er, let me put it this way: not having faith = hope since life ends when it ends thus requiring of us to find our own purpose.  Belief in a greater being = not knowing your purpose = hopelessness via futility.
Kenny Send private email
Wednesday, October 06, 2004
 
 
sid,

Your cited references and claims of heresay seem to have no backing. Care to take another shot?
anon Send private email
Wednesday, October 06, 2004
 
 
Another shot at what? What are you disagreeing with? How can I expand on whatever you are not satisfied with?
sid
Wednesday, October 06, 2004
 
 
"Genx'er, let me put it this way: not having faith = hope since life ends when it ends thus requiring of us to find our own purpose.  Belief in a greater being = not knowing your purpose = hopelessness via futility."
Kenny

I think you might have left out one choice which I believe in:

Believing in God, knowing exactly what his purpose is and how we fit into that purpose. This brings peace of mind now and confidence for the future.
Genx'er
Wednesday, October 06, 2004
 
 
sid-

I have just finished a cursory comparison of the passages cites.  At best, I see one point that may be debated:

The people Jesus appeared to after the resurrection and the order he appeared.

However, I do not see how this is an insurmountable conflict of facts.  These were different witnesses.  If they had all gotten together and compared notes before writing their accounts, then they might have gotten a comprehensive list of the people and chronology of the appearances.

However, these accounts were written at different times by different people.  It's much like asking three co-workers who was at work today and what the order they arrived in.  I doubt you'll get perfect agreement.


** I am interested in what conflicts you've discovered. **
Caffeinated Send private email
Wednesday, October 06, 2004
 
 
In addition to others:

"Josephus is widely regarded as a forgery. I don't think even Biblical scholars disagree much on that point."

One might say, "its a well known fact that birds evolved from dinosaurs". Well, in the last 3 years that seems to be a well known fact, but in prior years that theory was dismissed.

I could offer you references, based in fact, to argue either side of this point.  You offer none.
anon Send private email
Wednesday, October 06, 2004
 
 
I offered a starting point for your own research. I don't want to debate this. I've done enough debate over religion over the years to realize that if either side has made up their mind, nothing is going to change that. I offered the links to those that were truly interested, those who didn't realize that it's not an undisputed fact that Jesus existed. If you want more information, Google is only a link away.
sid
Wednesday, October 06, 2004
 
 
sid-

As expected...
Caffeinated Send private email
Wednesday, October 06, 2004
 
 
Sid,

Since you seem to doubt the reliability of ancient sources confirming the existence of Jesus, I guess you need to add someone else to that list of people who may have never existed, namely Caesar.

You see Caesar, who existed (supposedly, hahaha) in 100-44 B.C. is found only in 10 ancient documents, the earliest of which is from 900 A.D.  That would make a gap of 1000 years.  Yet no one would question that he existed. 

The New Testament on the other hand was written in 1st Cent. A.D. (50-100 A.D).  The earliest copy which presently exists is from 130 A.D, less than 100 years after Jesus' death.  In addition, there are some 5600 ancient copies of the New Testament.

By the way, I also have information about other historic figures whose very existence is based on scant evidence (including Plato, Aristophanes, Aristotle, etc)
Arthur Dent
Wednesday, October 06, 2004
 
 
Sure. I spent years researching religions, scriptures, historical evidence, etc. It's very interesting from an academic perspective, but I'm no longer interested in debating with believers about the merits of their faith. It's pointless and frustrating since it is such an emotional issue for most believers, and I'd rather be without the headaches. This also isn't the right forum for such a debate.
sid
Wednesday, October 06, 2004
 
 
++Believing in God, knowing exactly what his purpose is and how we fit into that purpose. This brings peace of mind now and confidence for the future.

well, non-believers can find peace of mind the same way (via following one's self-created purpose)...
Kenny Send private email
Wednesday, October 06, 2004
 
 
Arthur, for all I know none of them might have existed. I don't know, it's not something I've researched. If I come across new facts that make it seem more probable to me that they didn't exist than that they did exist, I'll reevaluate my position. However, it's probably not something I'm going to invest much time in, because it doesn't mean much to me. I don't live my life by whether or not they existed, and I don't read their teachings. Whether they lived or not doesn't make much of a difference.
sid
Wednesday, October 06, 2004
 
 
sid-

"It's pointless and frustrating since it is such an emotional issue for most believers..."

(and non-believers)

"...and I'd rather be without the headaches. This also isn't the right forum for such a debate."


On this point, I agree with you.  Back to discussions of pointers... and version control... and ...

Why do we find this more interesting? ;)
Caffeinated Send private email
Wednesday, October 06, 2004
 
 
What always amazes me is the amount of effort that various people have put into "disproving" the Bible over the years.

And yet, the "Bible as truth" is not as widely accepted as an exploded theory as other theories that humanity has spent considerably less time on (eg flat earth)

People have been arguing over the details for hundreds of years, usually holding the Bible to much stricter standards than other historical records.

And usually completely missing the joy that comes from a close relationship with God :(

I like to compare a faith-filled life to a good relationship. We all know needy people who use relationships as a crutch.  Likewise, we all know people who pay lip service to their relationships while being abusive or cheating on their significant other.  We even know people who are surviving just fine on their own, pretty happy with their lives.

This doesn't mean that everyone is better off without a relationship at all.  On the contrary. (If you've ever been in a good relationship, think of all the joy that you'd have missed out on without it.)
Phibian
Wednesday, October 06, 2004
 
 
I don't balance it. I'm an Atheist. I don't have time for all that self-righteousness, hipocrisy and violence that religion breeds.

So I just get on with coding, and wasting time on fourms :)
NickH
Wednesday, October 06, 2004
 
 
It is the joy that some people (Khomeini, Osama
Ben Laden, the IRA) have been getting from their
extremely close relationships with God that has
made other people hold scriptures to much stricter
standards of proof...

> People have been arguing over the details for
> hundreds of years, usually holding the Bible to
> much stricter standards than other historical
> records.

> And usually completely missing the joy that
> comes from a close relationship with God :(
Ali
Wednesday, October 06, 2004
 
 
"It is the joy that some people (Khomeini, Osama
Ben Laden, the IRA) have been getting from their
extremely close relationships with God that has
made other people hold scriptures to much stricter
standards of proof..."

And the joy of Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, Mao, Ho Chi Minh?
The Wondering Jew Send private email
Wednesday, October 06, 2004
 
 
"Today, I believe that I am acting in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator: by defending myself against the Jew, I am fighting for the work of the Lord."

-- Adolf Hitler (Reichstag speech, 1936)

Gott mit uns.
sid
Thursday, October 07, 2004
 
 
Ummm Josephus is not a forgery, he existed and he wrote his history.  However, there was a rewrite of a particular passage (in the 4th century I think) to align it with the Synoptic gospel.  In fact, Josephus did mention a Jesus, or Yeheshuah, but in a single sentence and without giving it much weight.

After all, without Paul, there'd be no Jesus.

Mind, as a devout atheist, I have my own weirdnesses.
Simon Lucy Send private email
Thursday, October 07, 2004
 
 
"No, I can't prove it.  But the fact is who ever created the universe was much smarter than any of us."

Assuming the universe was created by someone, which is a big assumption.
John Topley Send private email
Thursday, October 07, 2004
 
 
>I am a professional programmer,
>with a BA in Math, and a conservative
>Christian.  I don't find any inherent
>conflict between any of these.

Me to, except I have a BS in Math and a MS in Computer Information Systems ... :-)
Matt H. Send private email
Thursday, October 07, 2004
 
 
There's a science for weighing the evidence of historical documentation.

You do thinks like:

1) When was the original work created?

2) Where was the original work created?

3) How early are the earliest existant copies of
the work that we have in our hands?

4) How much do those copies differ?

5) Where were those copies created?

Thus, if you have a work that originated in Rome in the 600BC and the first existant copy is British Columbia in 1600AD, and you only have _one_ copy, you start to say "uh, what?"

On the other hand, if the document came out of Jerusalam in 50AD and you have fragments from all over Judea from 100-200AD and they are identical, and you have complete books from "a little futher out" from 250AD, and the expansion pattern looks like a rough circle that points back to Jerusalam, and the copies are nearly identical, then, hey, it's starting to look good.

When the Catholic Church decided what to include in the Bible in the Council of Nicea, they asked different questions: 

  -> When was the book created
  -> Did the Author Actually _see_ Christ?
  -> Was the book universally accepted
  -> Did the existant copies vary greatly in text?
  -> Did the work claim divine inspiration?
  -> Was the work in and of itself theologically consistent?  (If it's divine, does God change his mind?)

They used these questions to create the new testemant canon.  About a dozen books (5th John, the Gospel of Peter, The Shroud of Hermes, the Letter of Jesus, the letter of Pilat's wife, etc.) were REJECTED from the gospels because they failed the test.

What's amazing is that those rules are very different from the scientific rules that would be applied about 1400 years later (the first set of rules above), yet given the same test, as I understand it, the SAME SET OF BOOKS PASS.

So when the church claims that the Council of Nicea has divine guidance, I say "Absolutely", because they came to the same conclusions as document science would, but document science wasn't invented for about a thousand years!

Oh, and Arthur Dent was right, in the odessey, the illiad, Ceasar's Account of the Gallic Campaign, etc, all do substantially worse on the document science test.

I believe in Jesus like I believe that Lincoln was the president of the United States, that he lived, Freed the Slaves, and died by a bullet.  I weighed the evidence, looked at the first and third person accounts, considered by sources, and made a conclusion.  Just like any court case.  I believe the evidence was clear. 

The difference is that Jesus rose from the dead and is my living Hope.

Regards,
Matt H. Send private email
Thursday, October 07, 2004
 
 
>Assuming the universe was created
>by someone, which is a big
>assumption.

http://www.fotuva.org/online/quotes.htm

The final two quotes.
Matt H. Send private email
Thursday, October 07, 2004
 
 
There is also a science to forgery, IE:

If you read something proported to be written in the 1700's, but it includes the name "Wendy", you know it's a forgery because the name Wendy was introduced in (early 1990's) in the book "Peter Pan."  Or Dweeb or "Cool Beans" or "Whatever, Dude" or a hundred more.

Every generation has catch-phases like "in the doghouse" that only have meaning after a certain point-in-time.  If you find a work that includes a phrase before it came into use, that's a pretty good sign that it's bogus.

That said, I understand that some of the Josephus work is suspect.  Not all of it.  At least one mention of Jesus is valid.  (http://www.1000questions.net/en/histo1.htm) more than that, most secular Jews recognize that Jesus was real and died on a cross ...
Matt H. Send private email
Thursday, October 07, 2004
 
 
"They used these questions to create the new testemant canon.  About a dozen books (5th John, the Gospel of Peter, The Shroud of Hermes, the Letter of Jesus, the letter of Pilat's wife, etc.) were REJECTED from the gospels because they failed the test."

That could easily interpreted to mean that they only selected what supported their goal, and hid away everything else that might contradict.

A well known tactic to "prove" a point.
Practical Geezer
Thursday, October 07, 2004
 
 
>Sathyaish, I am also an Indian and a hindu. But I hate the statements like west needs a perspective, muslim needs a perspective, you need a perspective.... because what I think is perfectly right! Point is who are you and me to question any other's faith!? Does not Bible, Kuran and Geeta says the same? what is so new you are saying. It's just that we all are taking different paths to reach the ultimate.


Clearly, I have been misunderstood. There was nothing sectarian in what I said. On the contrary, I said that religion, true religion is not about ethnicity. It is purely universal - the process of self-inquiry. It is scientific, and anything scientific cannot be applicable to only a specific cult. It is universal.
Sathyaish Chakravarthy Send private email
Thursday, October 07, 2004
 
 
---"I believe in Jesus like I believe that Lincoln was the president of the United States, that he lived, Freed the Slaves, and died by a bullet.  I weighed the evidence, looked at the first and third person accounts, considered by sources, and made a conclusion.  Just like any court case.  I believe the evidence was clear. "-------

If you're on any jiry that tries me I sure hope I'm not innocent.
Stephen Jones Send private email
Thursday, October 07, 2004
 
 
Where are the Vikings when you need them?
Eric Bloodaxe
Thursday, October 07, 2004
 
 
Actually, this might be one of those moments when you actually do expect the Spanish inquisition...
Practical Geezer
Thursday, October 07, 2004
 
 
"Gott mit uns. "

There are good arguments to be made on either side for Hitler's religiousity.

Certainly not for Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, etc.
The Wondering Jew Send private email
Thursday, October 07, 2004
 
 
I see what you're saying, Sathyaish, but it could be interpreted as sectarian: it could be interpreted as implying that "someone who outwardly (without 'self-inquiry') worships whichever local, inherited village God is dictated by their caste is not practicing 'true' religion", or that "my religion is scientific, true, and more universal than yours".

Also, without wishing to deny God's unity, I wouldn't say that subclasses of the religion type are especially universal; on the contrary, they usually have some defining charcateristics: most Christian churches, for example, wouldn't categorize you a member of the church unless you had been baptized; and/or, you wouldn't be considered a good muslim unless you pray five times a day and so on. Interestingly, I've heard that Judaism with all its laws does not even intend itself to be universal: the Jews believe that, because of their special relationship with God, God wants of them in particular to obey various laws that are not imposed on nor expected of other peoples.

Even if you disregard all such peculiar behavioural conformities, the various scriptures are different not only in detail but also I think even in their broadest emphasis: the hindu scriptures seem to me to be about self-knowledge and finding God within yourself; the Christian scriptures are about God's love for man, and recognising the faithful by their charity to man; the muslim scriptures are about the greatness of God, and recognising the faithful by their obediance to His word.
Christopher Wells Send private email
Thursday, October 07, 2004
 
 
Sathyaish;

I agree with Christopher.

---"I think the West needs a perspective. Seems like they already have pre-concieved notions about the purpose of religion. What is religion, OP? Going to Sunday School? Celibacy? Praying before an idol? "Fearing" God, the basis of the "faith" you are asking about? Ritual?"---

Please judge these comments! Yourself!

I would rather love to see,

A HINDU be a GREAT HINDU,
A CHRISTIAN be a GREAT CHRISTIAN,
A MUSLIM be a GREAT MUSLIM....
I would really love this...
Thursday, October 07, 2004
 
 
"Jack, specifically in regard to Christians, Hebrews 12.8 says that consistent patterns of sin will be disciplined, else the person is not as they claim."

All the bases are covered, even suicide bombing.

I'm not going to list all the reasons I have trouble with biblical justifications... (for anything)

However, if you go to the library it will be in the fiction section.

There was something floating around not long ago that drew the same parallels to good ol' King James' book as are being drawn on the Koran to justify such behavior amongst the Islamic extremists.

Balancing religion and computers?

It's all about intent. Both have good an evil uses, the question is that of purpose.

My position for now is that organized religion exists mostly due to evil intentions, not wholesome ones.

I'm not so certain the same can't be said of computers, if not technology in general.

Perhaps they balance better than I first considered.
I am Jack's religious rhetoric
Thursday, October 07, 2004
 
 
----"consistent patterns of sin will be disciplined, else the person is not as they claim."

All the bases are covered, even suicide bombing.-------

Yea! God punishes all these suicide bombers by making sure none of them get away alive.
QED
Stephen Jones Send private email
Thursday, October 07, 2004
 
 
I can't tell about Pol Pot (anyone that starts at Year 0 stands a chance of being a religious bigot, even if its his own religon), but Stalin was fundamentally superstitious.

He may have hated the priests but he was still scared of them and still carried around with him totems of good luck.

You might think that superstition and religon are kissing cousins but otherwise unrelated, on the contrary the one is necessary for the other.
Simon Lucy Send private email
Friday, October 08, 2004
 
 
Matt -

"At least one mention of Jesus is valid.  (http://www.1000questions.net/en/histo1.htm) more than that, most secular Jews recognize that Jesus was real and died on a cross ... "

Not going to get into the historicity of Jesus, but I'd like to point out that the Romans crucified 100,000 Jews.
The Wondering Jew Send private email
Friday, October 08, 2004
 
 
>I have just finished a cursory
>comparison of the passages cites. 
>At best, I see one point that may be debated:
>
>The people Jesus appeared to after
>the resurrection and the order he appeared.

There is a protestant - um, I think he's prespeterian, named R.C. Sproul.  He has a book called "Now that's a good question!" that goes into a little bit of detail and, I believe, answers your question:

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0842347119/qid=1097239638/sr=2-1/ref=pd_ka_2_1/102-1678258-8919355

I'm pretty sure it was that book.  I remember hearing that question and that answer from a book about the time I read it ...
Matt H. Send private email
Friday, October 08, 2004
 
 
I don't get the point of previos post that asked me a question. Seriously.
Matt H. Send private email
Friday, October 08, 2004
 
 
++How do you balance working in the computer industry with religion? It seems to me that one requires very precise thinking while the other a leap of faith.

haha.  after reading this thread, i'm beginning to wonder which is which ;-)
Kenny Send private email
Friday, October 08, 2004
 
 
So.... how do you balance working in the computer industry with religion?

:)
Yoey Send private email
Friday, October 08, 2004
 
 
Since I can't reply to the author directly (no e-mail link)...

"My position for now is that organized religion exists mostly due to evil intentions, not wholesome ones."

I'm sorry you're exposure to "organized religion" has been limited to what I would call "non-christian churches" (what else could they be?).

Every church I've attended spends a *great deal* of time and money engaged in charitable works.

Just a few activities my Sunday school class particpates in:
 * Clothing drives for homeless/less-fortunate
 * Spending the night at homeless shelters to hand out food/supplies and wash clothes
 * Mission trips to Romania, Costa Rica, and Southeast U.S.
 * Support for a boys home in North Carolina
 * Hands-On-Atlanta
 * Etc.

Drop me an e-mail if you have some free time in the Atlanta area, we can use all the help we can get.
Caffeinated Send private email
Friday, October 08, 2004
 
 
Indeed. Currently I believe that organized religion is similar to other organizations -- good if the power starts at the bottom, and manipulative if it's top-down.

The danger with top-down is there are people who claim to know what God says. Bullshit, they are only there to help you come to an understanding. If they're not constantly probing their own relationships with this God, learning more, they are lumped in with any powerful false prophet who persecuted more honorable people. In the name of some God. Same with patriotism, same with any belief that you hold that someone may need to take advantage of. For your own good, maybe.

Yoey, I think you got some good answers, if perhaps lots of noise. The computer world is not rational. People hack out code in hopes it compiles; people are trapped into narrow mindsets all the time instead of seeing the forest. This forum in particular is about the Business of software, not really software itself.

Also, I hope the people on the audio I pointed out were useful to you.
Tayssir John Gabbour Send private email
Friday, October 08, 2004
 
 
Let me qualify that. It has a reasonable chance of being good if it's bottom-up. It's a big world, not all bottom-up organizations can be said to be good.
Tayssir John Gabbour Send private email
Friday, October 08, 2004
 
 

This topic is archived. No further replies will be accepted.

Other recent topics Other recent topics
 
Powered by FogBugz