Is Easter Christian or Pagan

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Re: Is Easter Christian or Pagan

Postby Tempo Gain » Wed Apr 05, 2017 17:11

Toad wrote:It's less common than it used to be. I've not really been following the debate, but there's been a long-running legal battle to determine whether displaying the ten commandments on government property violates the principle of "separation of Church and State", or whether it constitutes an explicit recognition of those principles underpinning the law of the land.


Sure, I know about it. I don't think such displays are a big thing in my (considerably non-Protestant and relatively non-religious) part of the country, the Northeast, unless I've missed something.

You totally lost me here. Of course it's a "valid belief". Nobody believes things that they can't justify to themselves. However, you can find equally practical justifications for dishonesty. There is nothing inherent in human nature which will impel civilisation towards honesty. That is, while you might be able to justify your honesty with logic, it doesn't work the other way: there is no logical reasoning which can take you from a position of dishonesty to honesty.


It's not that complicated. You said the only basis for such a belief was a tablet written about in an old book. I am saying that there are perfectly rational bases for such a belief. They don't require anything "inherent in human nature which will impel civilisation towards honesty" or any "logical reasoning which can take you from a position of dishonesty to honesty".

Certainly. But it remains a belief. Otherwise it would not be a belief, but an empirical fact that "honesty is the best policy".


Great, because I'm not asserting anything more. Yet this would seem to contradict your statement that I initially objected to.

Well ... I'm going to split hairs about that. Consider the existing legal system, which also commands you, cosmic lackey that you are: thou shalt not kill. Why do you not go around killing people? Is it because the law says you mustn't, or because you don't want to? If the latter, why don't you want to? Do you think it's possible that you were just brung up proper? That "thou shalt not kill" was planted in your head before you even could talk?


Sure it's possible, but it's very simplistic. Do you think that without such an instruction you would go around killing people? At an extreme minimum, don't you think your expected lifespan would be greatly shortened if you adopted such a practice?

Now consider Jesus's Good Samaritan parable. Surely, if the local culture already incorporated such thoughts, he wouldn't have felt the need to elucidate the radical idea of looking after one's (nominal) foe?


That's difficult to say. Luke 10:27 offers some insight :)

Whether you want to acknowledge the ultimate source of these ideas doesn't matter, I suppose. You can attribute them to friendly aliens if you want. The fact remains that these radical ideas are so deeply embedded in our culture that you think they're just obvious. And yet some cultures never invented them.


I'm not saying that Christianity is devoid of good ideas or has not influenced our culture. However I hope you recognize that its record of successful propagation of such ideas is spotty at best, despite the privileged position of Christianity in our culture over the years. What is attributable to Christianity, and what is attributable to the progression of human thought that would anyway have occurred? Does it not seem that considerable progress has been made in the last several hundred years, while Christianity had a much longer time frame to make itself felt? You'd have to demonstrate the truth of your assertion to me, which I would paraphrase as saying that such ideas could not exist independently of Christianity. I'm well familiar with your arguments about the differing state of humanity in various parts of the world but I remain unconvinced.

As I said, I wasn't claiming exclusive ownership.


I'm glad to hear that, but sometimes it sounds like it.

But it is nevertheless a core principle of Judeo-Christian belief, from which US culture draws inspiration. If it wasn't, then that aforementioned legal battle wouldn't exist, would it?


I'm not sure about the logic of that conclusion :) Post hoc ergo propter hoc?
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Re: Is Easter Christian or Pagan

Postby sandman » Wed Apr 05, 2017 18:05

If everyone around you is a nasty, thieving lying sack of shit who'll slit your throat on the off-chance of robbing a few bucks off you, how on earth can honesty be the best policy? Sounds like a recipe for disaster, to me.
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Re: Is Easter Christian or Pagan

Postby Dragonbones » Wed Apr 05, 2017 21:37

Toad wrote:
Tempo Gain wrote:I never saw one growing up.

It's less common than it used to be. I've not really been following the debate, but there's been a long-running legal battle to determine whether displaying the ten commandments on government property violates the principle of "separation of Church and State", or whether it constitutes an explicit recognition of those principles underpinning the law of the land.


I never saw the ten commandments of JudeoChristianity in a public place in all my 24 years in the US. :idunno: I never even saw them in a church. Then again, I didn't frequent courthouses in the Bible Belt. Such display is as obvious an example of the violation of the principle of separation of Church and State as one could ask for.
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Re: Is Easter Christian or Pagan

Postby Toad » Wed Apr 05, 2017 21:41

sandman wrote:If everyone around you is a nasty, thieving lying sack of shit who'll slit your throat on the off-chance of robbing a few bucks off you, how on earth can honesty be the best policy? Sounds like a recipe for disaster, to me.

Yeah, that's all I was saying really. Perhaps more pithily phrased :)

Such display is as obvious an example of the violation of the principle of separation of Church and State as one could ask for.

And yet ... you do realise the word 'God' appears in your Constitution, essentially as a justification for its entire philosophy? Those guys were pretty shrewd: despite (we assume) being Believers, they recognized that organised religion (Church) shouldn't have a say in Statecraft. They probably knew their history.

Post hoc ergo propter hoc?


This page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/In_God_We_Trust

has some musings on what it means to separate Church and State, and the views of the public on the meaning of "God" for the US.

However I hope you recognize that its record of successful propagation of such ideas is spotty at best, despite the privileged position of Christianity in our culture over the years. What is attributable to Christianity, and what is attributable to the progression of human thought that would anyway have occurred? Does it not seem that considerable progress has been made in the last several hundred years, while Christianity had a much longer time frame to make itself felt?

True enough, with the proviso that religion (not Christianity as such) has always been a really, really effective figleaf to cover all sorts of skulduggery. Christians, broadly speaking, tend not to make much impact on the world. People don't really notice them. They'll notice a rampaging horde of thugs screaming "we're Christians and we're here to murder you all!", so they get recorded in the history books. It's very hard to tell what fraction of the population in, say, the Dark Ages were actually Christians, and how many of them just said they were to (a) justify pogroms or (b) avoid pogroms.
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Re: Is Easter Christian or Pagan

Postby Just Jennifer » Thu Apr 06, 2017 00:04

Toad wrote:Christians, broadly speaking, tend not to make much impact on the world. People don't really notice them. They'll notice a rampaging horde of thugs screaming "we're Christians and we're here to murder you all!", so they get recorded in the history books.


I disagree. There is a lot of Good work being done by Christians around the world. Women and children taken in off the streets, purchased from brothels, given an education and skills. Water wells being drilled so that girls spend less time traveling to and from the traditional sources of water and more time for education. Good work by doctors and nurses all over the world. I'm thinking of the Indian couple I met last year doing Good work in bariatric surgery and obstetrics. Good work done in prison ministry, all over the world, even here in Taiwan. Good work among refugees, providing food, clothing, education, housing. Good work being done even in Hollywood and music, where "believers" quietly use their wealth and influence to help those less fortunate. We just don't see this stuff in the news. It's not glamorous or violent enough to get people's attention.



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Re: Is Easter Christian or Pagan

Postby Toad » Thu Apr 06, 2017 00:23

Just Jennifer wrote:We just don't see this stuff in the news. It's not glamorous or violent enough to get people's attention.

Sure. I agree with what you wrote. However, the point is the quoted bit: it all goes unremarked, especially since Christians (on the whole) don't do self-promotion.

It's just my opinion, but I'd say a big part of being a Christian is just being a Christian. I was really just playing devil's advocate with TG because I know he doesn't subscribe to any religious belief; however, for Christians there is indeed merit in (for example) being honest for it's own sake. As you've probably gathered, I spend a lot of time in places where people lie and cheat by default - not because it brings them any benefit, but simply because that's how they've been raised and it's how their culture functions (or rather doesn't function). I still deal with people honestly, and I assume that they're being honest with me, even though I know mostly they're not, and that they'll see my trust as a sign of naivete or weakness and attempt to exploit it/me. I do this because I believe that's how I should behave. I have a farm, and I farm in a way that respects Creation; and I'm rewarded abundantly for it. I'm not sure if this influences anyone or if literally everyone is laughing at me. Mostly, they just send their animals over to eat my stuff (note to self: install electric fences) because it's the only green patch in the middle of an eroded, chemical-blasted wasteland. But if just one person notices and thinks maybe I'm onto something, then I'll be pretty happy.

OTOH I'm not big on helping the "less fortunate". If they want a well, they can dig their own well. They're able-bodied (more able-bodied than I am, come to think of it). They have shovels. They have plenty of time on their hands and lazy teenage sons mooching around. Digging a well for them is disrespectful. Maybe they don't want a well. I can't imagine why anyone would rather wait for the gubmint or foreigners to come and dig a well for them, but if that's what they want to do it's not really my business. I don't give people money because I know (from experience) that they'll blow it on something ridiculous - it wouldn't in any sense help them. It would, in some odd way, make them more poor. If someone asked me to help dig them a well, or similar, I'd gladly pitch in. But nobody ever does.

Does that make me a bad Christian?
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Re: Is Easter Christian or Pagan

Postby Tempo Gain » Thu Apr 06, 2017 00:49

Toad wrote:And yet ... you do realise the word 'God' appears in your Constitution, essentially as a justification for its entire philosophy?


No it doesn't :smile: Not unless you count the phrase "year of our lord" in the date. It does appear in the "Declaration of Independence" which is an important founding document, but not the constitution.

Those guys were pretty shrewd: despite (we assume) being Believers, they recognized that organised religion (Church) shouldn't have a say in Statecraft. They probably knew their history.


Indeed. They were greatly motivated by the desire to avoid religious involvement in government, which is greatly understandable given English and European history of the period. Many were of a rather deistic bent, and this is reflected in the Declaration with terms like "their Creator" and "Nature’s God", though the phrase "the Supreme Judge of the world" also appears and seems less deistic.

This page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/In_God_We_Trust

has some musings on what it means to separate Church and State, and the views of the public on the meaning of "God" for the US.


Sure. I'm pretty familiar with the topic. There are all manner of symbols and practices which occasionally appear, and have been objected to, not always successfully. For example "In God We Trust" is the "national motto" which officially replaced the earlier (and way better) "E Pluribus Unum" in 1956, though it appeared on coinage since 1864.

True enough, with the proviso that religion (not Christianity as such) has always been a really, really effective figleaf to cover all sorts of skulduggery. Christians, broadly speaking, tend not to make much impact on the world. People don't really notice them. They'll notice a rampaging horde of thugs screaming "we're Christians and we're here to murder you all!", so they get recorded in the history books. It's very hard to tell what fraction of the population in, say, the Dark Ages were actually Christians, and how many of them just said they were to (a) justify pogroms or (b) avoid pogroms.


I get your point. However I think this argument runs counter to the idea you've stated (to paraphrase again) that these ideas are unconsciously ingrained in all of us because of the influence of Christianity in the culture. Can you have it both ways?

On another tack, I find this an interesting phrasing:

for Christians there is indeed merit in (for example) being honest for it's own sake


If the merit is in being honest for its own sake, isn't it clear that there are benefits to honesty which should stand on their own merits? That it has an intrinsic value? Otherwise, respectfully, what's the merit of it in Christian thinking? In other words, why do you think it's good to be honest?
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Re: Is Easter Christian or Pagan

Postby Mick » Thu Apr 06, 2017 01:53

Toad wrote:It's just my opinion, but I'd say a big part of being a Christian is just being a Christian.


This is a pretty cynical view, one which I admittedly held for much of my life, it's kind of like saying turning up to church on Sunday is an opportunity to compare outfits.

People who I know, who really believe in Christianity, really do extend a hand when they can.
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Re: Is Easter Christian or Pagan

Postby TainanCowboy » Thu Apr 06, 2017 10:00

Toad opines:
It's just my opinion, but I'd say a big part of being a Christian is just being a Christian.

IMO this hits the nail on the head. Even says so in the Christian Bible - "By your actions you shall be known." - sort of an interpretation of Matthew 7:16, without the fruit.
Talking it is one thing - walking it can be another. You decide which one does the mos 'good.'

To get back to the OP - I was always taught the Easter Holiday was a Christian event that was super-imposed over some already existing Pagan holiday.
Done to wean the heathens (non-Christians) away from their blasphemous actions while not messing about with the already scheduled days(s) of celebration.
They already were in the habit of having a party on this/these days (s?) so lets just change it up a bit and be quiet about it.
Smart move IMO.
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Re: Is Easter Christian or Pagan

Postby sandman » Thu Apr 06, 2017 10:46

People who I know, who really believe in Christianity, really do extend a hand when they can.

People who I know who are Muslim, who are Hindu, who are Taoists, who are Buddhists, who do not identify with any form of religion, do the same. Others of the same persuasions, including Christians, would rather rip your head off and spit down your neck if they thought there was something in it for them.
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Re: Is Easter Christian or Pagan

Postby TainanCowboy » Thu Apr 06, 2017 10:51

sandman wrote:
People who I know, who really believe in Christianity, really do extend a hand when they can.
People who I know who are Muslim, who are Hindu, who are Taoists, who are Buddhists, who do not identify with any form of religion, do the same.

Very "Christian" of them, eh what?
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Re: Is Easter Christian or Pagan

Postby HeadhonchoII » Thu Apr 06, 2017 10:51

Christianity in Taiwan seems to be a networking club for the well off in many cases.

That said there are some real stalwart missionaries out there who have done a lot for their disadvantaged communities.


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Re: Is Easter Christian or Pagan

Postby Big Vern » Thu Apr 06, 2017 10:55

HeadhonchoII wrote:Christianity in Taiwan seems to be a networking club for the well off in many cases.


I've noticed that, too. The Christians over here are always loaded.
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Re: Is Easter Christian or Pagan

Postby Kal El » Thu Apr 06, 2017 13:36

There's actually a lot written on the subject of the OP.

The Ancient Pagan Origins of Easter

I know Christians who don't celebrate Easter because of it's Pagan origins. :idunno:

God’s Holy Days or Pagan Holidays – Which?

Something else of interest on the subject: The Birth of Christianity and the Origins of Christian Anti-Judaism
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Re: Is Easter Christian or Pagan

Postby Tempo Gain » Thu Apr 06, 2017 14:41

Kal El wrote:
Something else of interest on the subject: The Birth of Christianity and the Origins of Christian Anti-Judaism


Interesting stuff, thanks for posting.

Living here does give one a bit of perspective on the idea of a new religion trying to take root in a pagan society.
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