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Aliens as missionaries

Discuss philosophical questions regarding theism (and atheism), and discuss religion as it relates to philosophy. This includes any philosophical discussions that happen to be about god, gods, or a 'higher power' or the belief of them. This also generally includes philosophical topics about organized or ritualistic mysticism or about organized, common or ritualistic beliefs in the existence of supernatural phenomenon.
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Re: Aliens as missionaries

Post by Alias » November 26th, 2018, 8:28 pm

Greta wrote:
November 26th, 2018, 7:19 pm
And I say they would not be that dumb. People recognised the souls of animals for many thousands of years until the Abrahamic anomaly.
That's exactly what I mean! Those peoples didn't feel that it was their duty to convert anybody to their belief. It's only the ones whose god makes them his exclusive property and condemns them to hell for the sin of living who think anyone needs to be saved.
So, if aliens
.... would not be a good person if they accepted their good fortune (in finding what is effectively a purported life hack) and sharing it to save more souls.
then they would be looking for souls in their own species, and not recognize other life forms as having been given a soul by their god.
See what I mean?
If they're past sin-expiating religion and all the proselytizing nonsense, they'd probably treat other planets with respect. If they have a proselytizing type religion, they probably wouldn't recognize us as their god's chosen species. Either way, they're unlikely to try converting us.

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Re: Aliens as missionaries

Post by Greta » November 27th, 2018, 12:57 am

Alias wrote:
November 26th, 2018, 8:28 pm
Greta wrote:
November 26th, 2018, 7:19 pm
And I say they would not be that dumb. People recognised the souls of animals for many thousands of years until the Abrahamic anomaly.
That's exactly what I mean! Those peoples didn't feel that it was their duty to convert anybody to their belief. It's only the ones whose god makes them his exclusive property and condemns them to hell for the sin of living who think anyone needs to be saved.
So, if aliens
.... would not be a good person if they accepted their good fortune (in finding what is effectively a purported life hack) and sharing it to save more souls.
then they would be looking for souls in their own species, and not recognize other life forms as having been given a soul by their god.
See what I mean?
If they're past sin-expiating religion and all the proselytizing nonsense, they'd probably treat other planets with respect. If they have a proselytizing type religion, they probably wouldn't recognize us as their god's chosen species. Either way, they're unlikely to try converting us.
:lol: Nooo, you have to save them all, Alias! Is speciesism really next to godliness? Surely not for a universal deity!

All species are logically a reflection of different aspects of the whole. After all, us beings are hardly going to reflect the characteristics of the no-good bum of a deity running our neighbouring universe (the clumsy oaf even collided with our universe early on, leaving a cold spot in the CMB). Nope, we reflect our universe's deity, whom I think we can assume is pretty ruthless based on the violence and pain meted out over the last 13.8b years.

Generally, I would not judge aliens by our limitations. Firstly because they seem to only exist in our imaginations (but I would desperately like to be proved wrong). Secondly, as laboured over earlier, if aliens have interstellar skills then they will have a ton of other abilities. Thirdly, if we do encounter aliens and they turn out to be organic then I will eat someone's hat (I don't own any because, with my hair, they make me look like wicked witch).

Freezing cold, broiling heat, the Sun's radiation, cosmic rays, magnetic fields, asteroids and comets, lack of gravity, isolation, constant enclosure, stuck with the same people, no nature and, even if you arrive at other worlds it seems that they tend to be toxic, explosive or have dangerously sharp dust and geology.

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Re: Aliens as missionaries

Post by Alias » November 27th, 2018, 11:56 am

Greta wrote:
November 27th, 2018, 12:57 am
:lol: Nooo, you have to save them all, Alias! Is speciesism really next to godliness?
Abso-bloomin-utely! Sez so in Genesis. Jonah didn't try to preach at the whale - only the Assyrians. English missionaries didn't go to China to convert the pandas - only the Buddhists. Paul didn't send forth his emissaries to bring the good word to Thessalonian donkeys - only the Greeks. Because of the concept of "human soul" and "made in god's image", speciesism is deeply, irreparably embedded in the Abrahamic religions,(only two of which are proselytizing btw).
Generally, I would not judge aliens by our limitations.
Nor would I. Have to assume they've survived and left behind the primitive stages of their evolution by the time they achieve interstellar travel.
I would not expect them to feel comfortable enough here to move in (Contrary to Star Trek, all possibly inhabited planets do not have 1G and poplar trees.) or care what we believe - except as a curiosity.
Those who can induce you to believe absurdities can induce you to commit atrocities. - Voltaire

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Re: Aliens as missionaries

Post by Greta » November 27th, 2018, 7:06 pm

Alias wrote:
November 27th, 2018, 11:56 am
Greta wrote:
November 27th, 2018, 12:57 am
:lol: Nooo, you have to save them all, Alias! Is speciesism really next to godliness?
Abso-bloomin-utely! Sez so in Genesis. Jonah didn't try to preach at the whale - only the Assyrians. English missionaries didn't go to China to convert the pandas - only the Buddhists. Paul didn't send forth his emissaries to bring the good word to Thessalonian donkeys - only the Greeks. Because of the concept of "human soul" and "made in god's image", speciesism is deeply, irreparably embedded in the Abrahamic religions,(only two of which are proselytizing btw).
To be fair, all species are speciesist, and it seems that our greater temporal awareness doesn't always lead to greater logic.
Generally, I would not judge aliens by our limitations.
Nor would I. Have to assume they've survived and left behind the primitive stages of their evolution by the time they achieve interstellar travel.
I would not expect them to feel comfortable enough here to move in (Contrary to Star Trek, all possibly inhabited planets do not have 1G and poplar trees.) or care what we believe - except as a curiosity.[/quote]
One difference is, if you have the skills to travel to other solar systems, you are probably in a superhuman body too - one that doesn't need air, 1G, water, moderate temps etc. They could probably stroll off the spaceship and let their bodies adjust to local conditions.

Nor would they need clothes. Nor would they need hair or skin pigment. They would have eyes that can better see in space (and everywhere), probably large and black for maximal light absorption. They would not need to be tall, as they could have superhuman strength in a small package. But they'd need a large head to hold all those brains and other processing systems. Basically, they would be like this :)

Image

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Re: Aliens as missionaries

Post by Alias » November 27th, 2018, 8:17 pm

Greta wrote:
November 27th, 2018, 7:06 pm
To be fair, all species are speciesist, and it seems that our greater temporal awareness doesn't always lead to greater logic.
I'm not aware of any other species trying to convert anyone - of their own or any other kind - to their form of worship.
One difference is, if you have the skills to travel to other solar systems, you are probably in a superhuman body too - one that doesn't need air, 1G, water, moderate temps etc. They could probably stroll off the spaceship and let their bodies adjust to local conditions.

Nor would they need clothes. Nor would they need hair or skin pigment. They would have eyes that can better see in space (and everywhere), probably large and black for maximal light absorption. They would not need to be tall, as they could have superhuman strength in a small package. But they'd need a large head to hold all those brains and other processing systems.
Really? And you think, with all those accomplishments, they would both identify us as creatures with souls and be impelled to "save" us?

Well, it worked for the Romans.

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Re: Aliens as missionaries

Post by Greta » November 27th, 2018, 10:48 pm

Heh, the Romans were different. They did not convert or care to "save". If you had a god to ass to their pantheon, all the better. They simply incorporated other cultures, including religions, into the Roman framework. They were happy to add Yahweh to their growing canon of gods but the Jews did not want to cooperate and called a demarcation dispute. It's history now that Yahweh consigned the Roman head God Jupiter and the Greek Apollo, Egyptian Ra and Carthage's Ba'al Hammon to history.

I'm not sure why monotheism defeated polytheism. Was it simply a matter of everyone claiming that their deity was the greatest and most powerful? Might it be that, in this competition, the Abrahamics essentially said, "My god is bigger than yours. Mine is bigger than the whole universe!"? (At the time the "universe" would have consisted largely of the Middle East, the Roman and Carthaginian empires, some surrounding, the Sun, the Moon and the dome of stars above). My guess is that no one could think of anything bigger than the universe so God won.

In addition, as with bracket creep, God benefits from scope creep in that, the larger the universe becomes, the more "He's" posited to encompass.

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Re: Aliens as missionaries

Post by Alias » November 28th, 2018, 12:38 am

Greta wrote:
November 27th, 2018, 10:48 pm
I'm not sure why monotheism defeated polytheism.
First, because it's exclusive. "I, your God an a jealous God." That sort of god is not only intolerant of other gods, he/she/it (well, let's be blunt: he) forbids socializing, mingling, fraternizing, intermarrying, eating, partying, or shooting the breeze with the congregants of other gods. The relations of these people with their neighbours are business or hostilities - that's it.
Was it simply a matter of everyone claiming that their deity was the greatest and most powerful?
No. Many peoples never claimed that, when their armies actually were the most powerful. The Israelites claimed it, even when their armies were routed and decimated. They claimed it, even when they were at the mercy of great big empires. The leaders needed to keep saying that, in order to keep their people from deserting them: "If you go over to the Assyrians, Jehovah will smite you. If you hold out, Jehovah will reward you with lots more children and oxen." (Don't believe me: there's a whole big book keeps repeating this theme for like 900 years of ups and downs.)
Might it be that, in this competition, the Abrahamics essentially said, "My god is bigger than yours. Mine is bigger than the whole universe!"? (At the time the "universe" would have consisted largely of the Middle East, the Roman and Carthaginian empires, some surrounding, the Sun, the Moon and the dome of stars above). My guess is that no one could think of anything bigger than the universe so God won.
No he didn't! He kept losing and losing and losing. The competition wasn't about who could tell the bigger lie; it was about who carried the bigger stick. And that - after dispossessing and maybe exterminating a couple of little insignificant local tribes - was not Israel. Jehovah was never going to win any contests of size, strength, magic or moral suasion. That changed when a Turkish tax collector got involved with this new sect...
By a complete fluke, the Mithra-lookalike Israel maybe produced and maybe sent to the gallows collected enough followers to keep going after his death. By a fluke, that Saul character turned out to be a shrewd and zealous publicist. By a fluke, the Roman religion was running out of steam and the Roman conquests were getting out of hand. By a fluke, Constantine needed a really convincing victory to save his career.
History turns on flukes.
In addition, as with bracket creep, God benefits from scope creep in that, the larger the universe becomes, the more "He's" posited to encompass.
Sure, but that wouldn't have happened if Christianity had caught in Judea, instead of Rome. Once their chosen god had imposed on a biggish empire, and all opposition and dissent killed off, the new god was able to claim a growing universe. Of course, lots of Asians still aren't convinced.

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Re: Aliens as missionaries

Post by Belindi » November 28th, 2018, 9:11 am

I think that the Judeo Christian God differs from the Roman pantheon in that the former defined justice and showed how justice can be acted out in real life. The Roman pantheon by contrast was a set of natural and fatalistic forces which were amenable to propitiation by pious humans.

The Judeo Christian God and His justice may of course be hi-jacked, i.e. politicised,and this is what clever Constantine did.

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Re: Aliens as missionaries

Post by Alias » November 28th, 2018, 12:29 pm

Belindi wrote:
November 28th, 2018, 9:11 am
I think that the Judeo Christian God differs from the Roman pantheon in that the former defined justice and showed how justice can be acted out in real life. The Roman pantheon by contrast was a set of natural and fatalistic forces which were amenable to propitiation by pious humans.
Christianity is predicated on the single propositionJesus died for your sins
How is that justice and how does it contrast with the propitiation of gods?

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Re: Aliens as missionaries

Post by Belindi » November 28th, 2018, 5:01 pm

Alias wrote:
November 28th, 2018, 12:29 pm
Belindi wrote:
November 28th, 2018, 9:11 am
I think that the Judeo Christian God differs from the Roman pantheon in that the former defined justice and showed how justice can be acted out in real life. The Roman pantheon by contrast was a set of natural and fatalistic forces which were amenable to propitiation by pious humans.
Christianity is predicated on the single propositionJesus died for your sins
How is that justice and how does it contrast with the propitiation of gods?
' Christ died for our sins' may be variously interpreted. I really don't know what any sect's official doctrine is, although I daresay i could find out. The Christianising of Judaism established the sacrificial saviour. The sacrificial saviour is a moveable icon.

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Re: Aliens as missionaries

Post by Greta » November 28th, 2018, 8:05 pm

An entertaining and informative reply, Alias.

Yes, the Empire at the time of Constantine had been beset with growing problems - basically novel problems of civilisation that had not been yet encountered. I did rather like the inclusivist model of Roman religion, where everyone could bring along their own deity and it would join the throng - a deity for every personality and occasion like Hinduism. Theirs was was the opposite of mission work, a growing rather than shrinking of collective human conceptions.

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Re: Aliens as missionaries

Post by Alias » November 28th, 2018, 10:13 pm

Belindi wrote:
November 28th, 2018, 5:01 pm
' Christ died for our sins' may be variously interpreted.
How else can you interpret "redeemer"," saviour", "lamb of God" ?
I really don't know what any sect's official doctrine is, although I daresay i could find out.
If you find a Christian sect whose doctrine does not include Jesus dying to save us from our sins, I'd be very interested in hearing of it.
The Christianising of Judaism established the sacrificial saviour.
Leviticus 1:2 Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, If any man of you bring an offering unto the LORD, ye shall bring your offering of the cattle, even of the herd, and of the flock.
3 If his offering be a burnt sacrifice of the herd, let him offer a male without blemish: he shall offer it of his own voluntary will at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation before the LORD.

...and so, in painstaking detail.
Hebrews 11:4 By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh.
And, of course, there was the Isaac incident...
Anyway, Judaism didn't let itself be Christianized. The new cult had to move to other Roman dominions: Greece, Turkey, Egypt, Pannonia and Rome itself.
The sacrificial saviour is a moveable icon.
Certainly. But none of the others' cults have survived to proselytize in modern times.

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Re: Aliens as missionaries

Post by Alias » November 28th, 2018, 10:31 pm

Greta wrote:
November 28th, 2018, 8:05 pm
I did rather like the inclusivist model of Roman religion, where everyone could bring along their own deity and it would join the throng - a deity for every personality and occasion like Hinduism. Theirs was was the opposite of mission work, a growing rather than shrinking of collective human conceptions.
Yes, before the big conversion, they were politically shrewd enough not to kill or persecute conquered gods, but to Romanize them and subsume them. This cut down quite a lot on local rebellions, and so did the policy of according subject people Roman citizenship if they moved there. Of course, this policy, in an empire that grew far too unwieldy and expensive, contributed to the cultural breakdown.
The loss of religious rigor had begun long before: Maybe the fact that their entire pantheon was second-hand (the Greeks were a lot more permissive than the early Republic) made the religious edifice shaky in the first place; several emperors and their retinues had little respect for the gods and ... how shall we say - modern? - morality. Corrupt priesthood wasn't a big help. Taking all these other deities on board just diluted it more. Nobody could take any of the gods seriously anymore. (The RCC was well on its way to the same problems before the Reformation.)
But that diversity sure made the culture interesting!

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Re: Aliens as missionaries

Post by Greta » November 29th, 2018, 5:31 am

Alias wrote:
November 28th, 2018, 10:31 pm
Greta wrote:
November 28th, 2018, 8:05 pm
I did rather like the inclusivist model of Roman religion, where everyone could bring along their own deity and it would join the throng - a deity for every personality and occasion like Hinduism. Theirs was was the opposite of mission work, a growing rather than shrinking of collective human conceptions.
Yes, before the big conversion, they were politically shrewd enough not to kill or persecute conquered gods, but to Romanize them and subsume them. This cut down quite a lot on local rebellions, and so did the policy of according subject people Roman citizenship if they moved there. Of course, this policy, in an empire that grew far too unwieldy and expensive, contributed to the cultural breakdown.
The loss of religious rigor had begun long before: Maybe the fact that their entire pantheon was second-hand (the Greeks were a lot more permissive than the early Republic) made the religious edifice shaky in the first place; several emperors and their retinues had little respect for the gods and ... how shall we say - modern? - morality. Corrupt priesthood wasn't a big help. Taking all these other deities on board just diluted it more. Nobody could take any of the gods seriously anymore. (The RCC was well on its way to the same problems before the Reformation.)
But that diversity sure made the culture interesting!
Good info, thanks. I had a Mary Beard moment :) Yes, the Romans didn't tend to believe in their gods so much as in the metaphors for aspects of life and personality that they represented. I have to say I'm largely more familiar with the Greek gods than their Roman equivalents, perhaps because Greek mythology arguably had the best storytelling of any.

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Re: Aliens as missionaries

Post by Belindi » November 29th, 2018, 11:10 am

Alias, The Lamb of God who taketh away the sins of the world has counterparts among the many good men who raise humanity from our basic amorality. Real individuals alive and dead and in all walks of life have embodied the virtues of which The Lamb of God is the icon. I could understand if you quarrel with the unavoidable corollary of Christianity , that there is no good without suffering. However I'm surprised if you don't see layers of meaning in the allegory of the Lamb of God.

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