Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Su/on of God, part 1

A commenter mentioned a movie known as "Zeitgeist" to me, and says it is causing him some troubles.

First off, I commend J for exposing himself to challenges from alternative worldviews. Many is the time I've found myself facing off against a position that is different from my own and had to think deeply through it, to get to the other side. Sometimes it has taken months, and in a couple of cases almost a year. In one of those cases, the challenger won the battle for my heart and mind, and so I switched (and haven't regretted it). In the other, the challenger was shown to be an empty suit, so I didn't switch (and haven't regretted it). But this is the way to learn - expose yourself to hard stuff, occasionally or frequently the best the other side has to offer, and then figure out and/or find its worth by testing it.

On the other hand, "Zeitgeist" is hardly the best the other side has to offer, but it IS something alot of people don't have experience dealing with. Plus, it has the fact that it contains fairly well-produced visual and audio effects (with cool background music) going for it, and that can serve to cause an unconscious bolstering of the case in the mind of the viewer. Such is the power of media.

Anyway, I first watched 31 minutes of the film and noted some of my thoughts. I was going to do more, but I assembled so much material to comment on in the 1st 31, I figured watching the rest would be a total waste of my time. Later I did some selective websearching to find what others have said. Their links will follow my review, in part 2, due out Thursday.

I have to admit it - I found myself laughing out loud more than 5 times in the first 31 minutes, so poor were the arguments and so obvious the naked assertions. My favorite was their habit of drawing parallels between "the sun of God" and "the son of God" in an attempt to make their pitiful case that Jesus was a sun god. Are they aware that "sun" and "son" are homophones in English only? Are the words for "sun" and "son" in NT Greek, OT Hebrew, OT LXX Greek, New Testament-era Aramaic, or heck, even Latin and old French (since these guys are all about the Dan Brown-type stuff), homophones? This is either wholly disingenuous or pitifully underthought.

And of course, never stated but pervasive is the naturalistic worldview, which is grossly logically untenable and has undergone numerous merciless beatings on this blog alone. So that's a huge initial problem, and it leads to heavy bias against the supernatural. Of how much respect is such bias worthy?
In case J is unfamiliar with what I consider to be the most powerful argument in favor of the Christian worldview, I pause here to recommend these to J's reading.

Anyway, here goes:

-Minute 9-10:45 - interesting speech by an unidentified someone.
"We've been lied to by every institution" - presumably, I'm just sure he means every institution except the one he represents. Do such overgeneralisations help anyone?
"The same ones who gave you your government...your int'l banking cartels..." Please. The early believers in Jesus who died horrible deaths for their claim that their obscure Jewish rabbi teacher, who had died in disgrace in a remote part of the world had come back to life, thus proving His claim to be God in the flesh, gave us the government and banking cartels? This is the stuff of wild-eyed Dan Brown imaginations.
"All they care about is what they have always cared about...controlling the whole...world" I can't speak for everyone else, but I know *I'm* not under any group of people's control as far as my conscience and beliefs go. So the dumb overgeneralisations commence, and so early on!



Minute 12 - an excerpt from George Carlin(?), yet more thoughtless overgeneralisations. But that's Carlin's stock and trade, one of his main tools - irreverent hyperbole for comedic effect. That's fine as far as it goes, but it doesn't do anything to boost my confidence that this is meant to be a serious movie.
"Religion" has convinced people there's an invisible man? Which religion? Does Carlin realise that Mormonism (polytheistic), Hinduism (polytheistic), paganism (polytheistic), and Buddhism (atheistic) are also "religions"? Which "invisible man"? Certainly not Christianity - we believe that God (specifically, Jesus Christ) has made Himself visible numerous times throughout human history - in the Garden, the numerous theophanies in the OT, the appearances of 'the angel of the Lord', etc.
"If you do any of these 10 things, you go to Hell." I don't know about anyone else (wait, yes I do), but I've broken all 10 Commandments. Hundreds, if not tens of thousands of times. Yet I'm not headed for Hell. Why is that? One wonders whether Carlin or the Zeitguys know.
"...but He loves you" - Carlin apparently feels the need to misrepresent the Christian faith in extreme ways. His description of Hell may or may not be accurate, but this kind of blurb/punchline assumes, among numerous other things, the innocence and blamelessness of human beings in the matter of divine justice. Of course God is to blame! How could it be that I'd be responsible for my own actions? It's just stock liberal junk.
"God needs money..." No doubt Carlin is playing on the numerous examples of pastors and religious leaders prying money out of their followers by making power plays from their pulpits and altars. True enough - that exists. But to give no credit to the many other examples of Christian pastors and missionaries, for example, who labor faithfully for little or no pay or even gratitude is just unbalanced and unfair. And no serious Christian (yes, we exclude the Word of Faith-ers like Benny Hinn) is claiming, nor does the Bible claim, that God "needs" money; far from it.
Neither is any mention made of these other pagan religions' and their clergies' thirst for money. Nor how the modern liberal establishment craves money and power as well. Money is a temptation for EVERYone. But it doesn't do Zeitgeist any good to recall those inconvenient facts.

It occurs to me, by the way, that much of this material is answered in the Paul Manata series of reviews of Hitchens' "god is not Great" book, found on the Narrow Mind radio show. I recommend it, if you're in the mood for a good butt-whipping.

More in part 2, coming Thursday.

7 comments:

Dr Funkenstein said...

Cheers for the link, this is one I've heard about many times but never actually seen - although I gather the 2nd half descends into some bizarre 9/11 conspiracy theory or something along those lines.


My favorite was their habit of drawing parallels between "the sun of God" and "the son of God" in an attempt to make their pitiful case that Jesus was a sun god.

Haha, that is a bit of a shocker on their part given that just applying a bit of basic common sense would obviously lead one to realise that the words probably aren't similar in Greek etc. as they are in English

"Religion" has convinced people there's an invisible man? Which religion? ...visible numerous times throughout human history - in the Garden, the numerous theophanies in the OT, the appearances of 'the angel of the Lord', etc.

But on the other hand, and I'll directly quote you from one of your other posts here, the Bible also states:

"Romans 1-2 tell us that unbelievers know certain things about God, that He is, that He is creator, that He is invisible, that He is eternal, and that we stand condemned under His law."

Guest appearances seem to be thin on the ground in the last 2 millenia too, which doesn't help

Carlin apparently feels the need to misrepresent ... the innocence and blamelessness of human beings in the matter of divine justice. Of course God is to blame! How could it be that I'd ...liberal junk.

Because ultimately God controls the universe and everything that comes to pass, as you have said yourself numerous times. So whatever happens is down to God, not human beings.

I've broken all 10 Commandments. Hundreds, if not tens of thousands of times.

All 10? if you've broken #6 1000s of times you'd best hope your local constabulary never comes across this blog ;-)


http://contra-gentes.blogspot.com/2008/04/knowledge-of-god-series.html

Some of the stuff I glanced at on here seems pretty weak - the refutation of scientific realism for example consists of a series of sweeping generalisations and inconsistencies, eg:

Scientists are dogmatic - some are, most aren't.

Scientists just believe whatever's popular ie groupthink - I suggest he attends a science conference if he thinks that's the case. If there's one thing the big shots in any field love doing, it is proving other guys wrong. He might want to also read Jerry Coyne's(evolutionary biologist and atheist) refutations of much of the work on Evo-Devo.

Atheistic scientists enter science to 'prove' naturalism - do they? I certainly didn't. I think people confuse 'media atheists' with all atheists. A lot of scientists that I've come into contact with are either moderately religious or simply don't care about/pay attention to religion.

Scientists align findings with political interest - it no doubt happens sometimes, but its ironic then that he appears to be a fan of Wm. Dembski - a man that has spent the last 10 years or so utilising the forum of science for essentially political purposes.

For example, it is becoming more and more transparent that the science behind the anthropogenic global warming movement is fueled by a desire for global socialism and the destruction of Western-Capitalistic dominance.

I love this sort of semi-paranoid, unsupported nonsense. This is just empty assertion - there are a number of phenomena that people, for no obvious reason, are convinced is some kind of hoax on the general public. HIV===>AIDS denialism and vaccines==>autism are 2 other great examples that many people are convinced are part of some elaborate ruse on the part of scientists. More often than not, the denialists have little or no knowledge of the science they are dismissing.


Making facts fit a predetermined view/theory - it wasn't evolutionists who came up with the Omphalos hypothesis...

He also seems to purposely avoid dealing any examples of where scientific theories have made accurate predictions, instead solely focussing on the ones that were either wrong or incomplete/inadequate.

Lack of Logical Training

I'd imagine that a lot don't (I only took one term of philosophy of science, which was optional, as an undergrad and that was a while ago now...) yet he admits himself he has no formal philosophy training either. A lot of lab science also doesn't really require any deep and meaningful reflection, unless wondering about the cosmic implications of pipetting solutions into a tube is your thing. Additionally, plenty of philosophers are pro-evolution and have written books and journal publications on the philosophy relating to the study of evolution (eg Eliot Sober - he has some articles on his website for free).

He also levels charges such as circular reasoning etc at mainstream science - ironic given that AIG is one of the biggest creation science players, and their mission statement reads [words to the effect that] 'scripture is true, therefore science must support scripture' (he may not hold much stock in AIG of course, but it's hardly an approach amongst creationists exclusive to them).


Just a couple that caught my eye - I may write a blogpost on a few more if I have a bit of time soon.

Rhology said...

hey Dr Funk,

BTW, no telling whether I'll ever be able to get back to the earlier Dr Fun threads. No time, less energy. Sorry.

I'm surprised I've never heard of this movie before yesterday, honestly.
9/11 conspiracy...I watched Loose Change and was really wondering, then Screw Loose Change and wondered a lot less.
But yeah, this Z movie doesn't come across as a very serious effort.


that is a bit of a shocker on their part

I kept expecting them to toss me the punchline, but I guess they were serious about it. So much the worse for them.


that He is invisible

Fair enough, but He's not ALWAYS invisible. It's His nature to be invisible to our physical eyes (Rom 1:20) but He does make appearances.


Guest appearances seem to be thin on the ground in the last 2 millenia too

33 years incarnate in flesh isn't too shabby.


So whatever happens is down to God, not human beings.

To say this confuses the proximate human responsibility for each individual's actions and God's ultimate plan. God doesn't will that every action come to pass in the same way - some actions are directly undertaken by Him, some are directly influenced to take place by Him, some are desired by Him, some are not desired by Him and undertaken by other agents.


if you've broken #6 1000s of times

Yeah, true. Seriously, though, let it never be said that I or any other serious Christian could be self-righteous. It is precisely our reception of God's grace that lets us see how lost and wicked we really are.
Anyway, what I meant specifically here was:
Mat 5:21 "You have heard that the ancients were told, 'YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT MURDER' and 'Whoever commits murder shall be liable to the court.'
Mat 5:22 "But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever says to his brother, 'You good-for-nothing,' shall be guilty before the supreme court; and whoever says, 'You fool,' shall be guilty {enough to go} into the fiery hell.


I suggest he attends a science conference if he thinks that's the case.

Attending a Dembski event at a local university was a great example of precisely that kind of groupthink.
I doubt Saint & Sinner would claim that they groupthink on every little thing.


Atheistic scientists enter science to 'prove' naturalism - do they?

Sure seems like quite a few do.


I think people confuse 'media atheists' with all atheists.

Dick Dawk has (I presume) a lot better scientific credentials than you do... (though he has evidenced miles and miles less clear thinking than I've seen from you.)


a man that has spent the last 10 years or so utilising the forum of science for essentially political purposes.

Couldn't possibly be for mathematic and scientific purposes! I guess that depends on how effective one thinks his theories are.
Anyway, I don't have time to defend every statement by Saint & Sinner. Feel free to ask him.

Dr Funkenstein said...

BTW, no telling whether I'll ever be able to get back to the earlier Dr Fun threads. No time, less energy. Sorry.

No probs, I fully understand these kind of debates can get a bit time consuming sometimes.

I kept expecting them to toss me the punchline, but I guess they were serious about it. So much the worse for them.

My curiousity got the better of me on the son/sun thing, so I looked it up - perhaps the Zeitgeist comparison of the words isn't so ridiculous as it first seems (although it does mean giving them the benefit of the doubt that they actually looked it up too, and I'm not sure it merits jumping to the conclusion that Jesus wasn't real and the early Christians were actually just sun-worshippers...)

http://www.kypros.org/cgi-bin/lexicon

gives in (ancient) Greek:

son=gios (γιος) (which I think may be pronounced 'yee-os')

sun= ilios (ήλιος)

so possibly quite similar when spoken I'd guess - although I have absolutely no idea about how they are used in conjunction with other words or how easy they are to differentiate when heard in context in a sentence.

I'm not sure about Aramaic or Hebrew though.

Rhology said...

Looks like in Koine (NT) Grk, they're the same.

gios and helios

Not nearly like 'sun' and 'son' in homophonic nature, though. Given the other reasoning found in the movie, I'm not inclined to give the Zeitguys the benefit of the doubt...

J. said...

Wow, thanks! I look forward to part 2.

Matt said...

FYI,

There is no gios in Ancient Greek - it is a modern word. In Ancient (and Koine) Greek, the word for son is huios, which is pronounced hwee-os. This is different than helios, which is pronounced hay-lee-os, especially given the fact that the former has two syllables, and the latter has three. One might see how two homophones might be confused on occasion (for context usually eliminates all but a fraction of confusion over homophones), but no one in their right mind will say that a three-syllable word would be consistently confused with a two-syllable one. Personally, I don't see why this issue ("sun of God" being confused with "son of God") merits serious discussion, as it is obtuse, unsubstantiated, speculation, divorced from both evidence and the knowledge of ancient languages.

Rhology said...

Fun stuff - the Atheist Experience weighs in.