Authority of the ancients vs authority of progress

Discussion in 'Belief and Spirituality' started by Cino, Jul 29, 2021.

  1. Cino

    Cino Big Love! (Atheist mystic) Admin

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    In antiquity, religious cults had to be able to refer to ancient origins in order to be taken seriously. Plato summed it up in one of his texts, letting an Egyptian priest speak of the Greeks as "children", whose traditions were only a couple of hundred years old. The ancient Greeks were very impressed by the ostensibly more ancient traditions of the Egyptians, Jews, and Persians - "Chaldeans" -, all the while maintaining a sense of superiority over these "barbarian" peoples.

    Sometime, around the Enlightenment era maybe, this changed. New discoveries, progress, innovations were increasingly valued over the wisdom of the ages. Ancient texts were subjected to studies to determine their editorial history and age. New religions could arise with only a slight nod at tradition.

    Now the tension between reformers and conservatives is not what I'm referring to. After all, even reformed Christians like to read the Books of Moses, Baha'i study the Quran and Gospels, and so on.

    Do you feel your religious tradition would lack something if it did not have a sense of deep time, of the authority of the ages? Or do you feel that new insights or revelations give it the significance and relevance it has for you?
     
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  2. wil

    wil UNeyeR1 Moderator

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    It is said (by someone) you cant be a good Christian unless first you are a good Jew.

    I find reading the Jewish meaning of biblical names (people, tribes, cities, wells, rivers, mountains) enlightening.

    But beyond that I would say many if not most gain much insight from modern writings of regarding original texts (hence the volumes of interpretations and commentary)

    Note: read modern as any sermon or writing about the original...no matter how long ago.
     
  3. Thomas

    Thomas Administrator Admin

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    In my case, the former.
     
  4. wil

    wil UNeyeR1 Moderator

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    I could swear you have always been a proponent of not reading the bible without guidance of the interpreters?
     
  5. Thomas

    Thomas Administrator Admin

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    Oh, I am ... the Fathers to me speak from 'deep time, of the authority of the ages'.
     
  6. wil

    wil UNeyeR1 Moderator

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    Lol...me too
     
  7. juantoo3

    juantoo3 ʎʇıɹoɥʇnɐ uoıʇsǝnb

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    More is not necessarily better, new is not necessarily improved. I find it odd, even philosophically "funny," that "science" would berate religion because of its memes while ignoring the memes science itself uses. Religion, science, philosophy...these are merely attempts to understand the greater world around us. While there are fundamentalists of every stripe who would discount and disassociate from the other methods of understanding, I think many different methods hold merit on their own principles, and I find myself at various times approaching an issue using various methods. I don't have any specific formula, and don't know that I can say any one specific method is better than another, so much is contingent on the situation and circumstance. But I do think it behooves a scholar to be flexible enough to say "this is one way of looking at it, but there are other ways..." Consequently I do think there is value in each...and this translates into my position of preserving cultures, even obscure ones, rather than "saving them from themselves with all of our modern superiority" which seems to have created far more problems than it has solved.


    Interesting question. I guess since I look back as far as anthropological science possibly can and use that as a baseline from which to study all other faiths, I would think that is about as "deep time" as a human can possibly muster. Another way of looking at the matter, the way I prefer to consider, is stripping away the gilt and glamour and looking at the bare essence, the root core as it were, from which sprang all else. Simple is often better, or as Lotus is famed for..."simplify, then add lightness."
     
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  8. RJM Corbet

    RJM Corbet God Feeds the Ravens Admin

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    Moving this from the Matrix thread:
    https://www.interfaith.org/community/threads/6106/page-17#post-351116

    IMO what's happening there is a mishy-mash of half-formed concepts linked together by incomplete scriptural (old) and scientific (new) soundbites trying to give it gravitas.

    The value of the forums being exchange of ideas, there are a few concepts evoking deeper thought – but part of a discussion is asking questions which should not be kicked into the long grass
     
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2021
  9. Cino

    Cino Big Love! (Atheist mystic) Admin

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    Sounds a bit like @Thomas' gripes with "cherry picking" or "smorgasbord spirituality".

    I think only very few people, those who are deeply into religious or spiritual topics, ever achieve an in-depth understanding of even their own tradition's doctrines and evolution. For the most of us, we pick up bits here and there, maybe go down a rabbit hole or two, and end up with said mish-mash.

    The crucial point here, for me, is: does it work for the person in question. Does it help them to frame their experience of living here now, in terms and concepts that enable them to orient themselves, find a bearing, direction, or even a purpose, in their existence. The only validation for beliefs is for an individual to find for themselves, and any God or gods who might be involved.

    Now I'm aware that this is a very subjective, experiential, mystic point of view.

    The discussion underway here is more about external factors, about trying to convince others of one's ideas, and bringing up the ancients or current science to support one's efforts. When presenting one's beliefs for the benefit of other persons,the bits that seem out of place or poorly integrated then will become points of contention, as in the Matrixist discussion going on in parallel. I think this is inevitably what happens when intensely personal experience has to be repackaged for communication, and has little to do with whether the ancients or the moderns are more important.
     
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  10. RJM Corbet

    RJM Corbet God Feeds the Ravens Admin

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    I'm entitled to anything I want to believe, but when I want to convince others to believe the same I need to be careful with my references?
     
  11. Cino

    Cino Big Love! (Atheist mystic) Admin

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    Agreed. For one, it takes a bit of tact to get across a new interpretation of an old text, especially if the old text is also part of another person's beliefs. The Baha'i often struggle with this, but so do Muslims and Christians when referring to older scriptures and traditions.

    And this also applies when referring to modern scientific findings, though then it is less an issue around respect, and more one of understanding what science is, and how the scientific method is applied.

    All that said, I often wonder why it is so important to spread certain spiritual messages. Strength in numbers? The almost manic energy in the wake of a deep insight? Genuine desire to share something helpful? And equally I often wonder, is it always correct to measure such a spiritual renewal effort up against more seasoned, maybe jaded older traditions?
     
  12. RJM Corbet

    RJM Corbet God Feeds the Ravens Admin

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    It's interesting. We had a thread on why people want to talk about their spiritual beliefs:
    https://www.interfaith.org/community/threads/19714/

    However you seem to sum it up quite well. I might include the genuine desire to talk and learn about the subject that one thinks about a lot?

    The 21st Century busts many myths with it's science and with the ability to quickly share so much information -- but it's also the age of Facebook memes and fake news, deliberate or not.

    Forums like this help to dig deeper. It's what we do here? At the same time I wish I could be more humble in genuinely listening to what others believe ...
     
  13. parta

    parta New Member

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    "O ye messengers! Eat of the good things, and do right. Lo! I am Aware of what ye do.

    And lo! this your religion is one religion and I am your Lord, so keep your duty unto Me.

    But they have broken their religion among them into sects, each group rejoicing in its tenets.

    So leave them in their error till a time appointed."


    I think science is about to do something wonderful for religion [or not depends on the person]
     
  14. Cino

    Cino Big Love! (Atheist mystic) Admin

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    Go on?
     
  15. Aupmanyav

    Aupmanyav Search, be your own guru.

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    Yes, traditions are valuable and have meaning. Some are nearly scientific, for example, the repeated insistence on cleansing of body and mind in Hinduism. We don't have this dichotomy of old and new in Hinduism, because we are allowed to change our views according to new information. That some people would stick to old is their choice. We do not mind that too and let them be.
     
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2021
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  16. Thomas

    Thomas Administrator Admin

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    I found, and subsequently lost, a link I really miss – a discussion about those 'ancient beliefs' and the assumption that as much as science has discovered, the 'genius' of Christian doctrine is that that ancient definitions are not required to change, in light of later insights.

    The person argued that there was something of a grey area here – that in light of modern science we can still express traditional beliefs, but it is highly unlikely that the ancients believed, or would accept, later 'informed' interpretations.

    I can try and detail this more clearly if anyone's interested.
     
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  17. Thomas

    Thomas Administrator Admin

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    Laudable. The expression, be it ancient or modern, the faith is the same ... it's something the west in particular gets its knickers in a twist about.
     

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