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Reza Aslan - Who is God?

Reza Aslan - Who is God?

(4:31) Religious scholar and author Reza Aslan on how people think about God. His book 'God: A Human History' is available from: Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com Big Think 2018.

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Guest: Get Real (129 days ago)

God is a divine version of me? No wonder this world is so screwed up.

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God is a divine version of me? No wonder this world is so screwed up.

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Guest: iguess (128 days ago)

Reza Aslan always sounds convincing but is often spouting nonsense. From the Old Testament (Genesis 1:27) “God created mankind in his own image”.the Bible gives god all sorts of human emotions and traits like jealousy, love and anger. So his humanization is not some filtered interpretation but in the description of the bible. Also; way before Christianity the Greeks and romans and hindus had much more thoroughly humanized their gods. Finally; Christ isnt considered to be a god by all Christians. The council of Nicaea decided it was the correct interpretation of the biblical text. This is the interpretation Reza is referring to. But this only applied to the catholic faith. the whole of eastern Christianity and many other sects didn’t and don’t.

Original comment

Reza Aslan always sounds convincing but is often spouting nonsense. From the Old Testament (Genesis 1:27) “God created mankind in his own image”.the Bible gives god all sorts of human emotions and traits like jealousy, love and anger. So his humanization is not some filtered interpretation but in the description of the bible. Also; way before Christianity the Greeks and romans and hindus had much more thoroughly humanized their gods. Finally; Christ isnt considered to be a god by all Christians. The council of Nicaea decided it was the correct interpretation of the biblical text. This is the interpretation Reza is referring to. But this only applied to the catholic faith. the whole of eastern Christianity and many other sects didn’t and don’t.

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Guest: (128 days ago)

The humansed description of God we find in the Bible is exactly his point. In Christianity, the majority accept that the character of Jesus Christ is both human, and the son of (or part of) God. That's the divine in authentic mortal human form - very hard to find in other religions. In Roman and Greek theology, the gods are humanised with human traits, but not human.

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Original comment

The humansed description of God we find in the Bible is exactly his point. In Christianity, the majority accept that the character of Jesus Christ is both human, and the son of (or part of) God. That's the divine in authentic mortal human form - very hard to find in other religions. In Roman and Greek theology, the gods are humanised with human traits, but not human.

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Guest: Iguess (123 days ago)

It seems to me that The reason why the majority of Christians now believe Jesus is part god is because they beat the many other interpretations of Jesus as purely human. This has mostly been achieved by historical accident like the fall of the Byzantine empire.

As for the significance of the difference in religion humanizing a god vs it deifying a man; that’s an interesting point. I’m not sure it really is that significant (Greek mythology had demigods like Hercules) but it’s interesting and I’ll take it.

I don’t know. I guess Aslan just annoys me.

Original comment

It seems to me that The reason why the majority of Christians now believe Jesus is part god is because they beat the many other interpretations of Jesus as purely human. This has mostly been achieved by historical accident like the fall of the Byzantine empire.

As for the significance of the difference in religion humanizing a god vs it deifying a man; that’s an interesting point. I’m not sure it really is that significant (Greek mythology had demigods like Hercules) but it’s interesting and I’ll take it.

I don’t know. I guess Aslan just annoys me.

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Guest: (122 days ago)

That's an interesting take. Perhaps there's a sweet spot - the optimum deity is human enough to be relatable, and divine enough to inspire awe, and previous interpretations didn't fit the bill as well as the one that has survived.

I think something similar is in play as regards Hercules too. Inspiring awe, sure, but relatable? Maybe not. I think there were popular cults that worshipped Hercules, but in the absence of a tome that provides structured moralistic advice, they were never likely to catch-on.

Personally, I don't agree with Aslan that the level to which a deity is humanised dictates how successful that religion is, but it doubtless affects it. Aslan is a bit annoying, but he isn't filled with the pompous dismissive attitude that typifies most of the Atheist lectures you find here.

Original comment

That's an interesting take. Perhaps there's a sweet spot - the optimum deity is human enough to be relatable, and divine enough to inspire awe, and previous interpretations didn't fit the bill as well as the one that has survived.

I think something similar is in play as regards Hercules too. Inspiring awe, sure, but relatable? Maybe not. I think there were popular cults that worshipped Hercules, but in the absence of a tome that provides structured moralistic advice, they were never likely to catch-on.

Personally, I don't agree with Aslan that the level to which a deity is humanised dictates how successful that religion is, but it doubtless affects it. Aslan is a bit annoying, but he isn't filled with the pompous dismissive attitude that typifies most of the Atheist lectures you find here.

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Guest: (120 days ago)
Latest comment:

I find most of these "big think" videos annoying. It's like they give basic information/ideas in portentous way and you're supposed to think it was big

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Latest comment:

I find most of these "big think" videos annoying. It's like they give basic information/ideas in portentous way and you're supposed to think it was big

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WalterEgo WalterEgo (124 days ago)

Aslan talks like an atheist, making a strong case for god being a figment of our imagination. But then he throws in a plug for Christianity.

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Aslan talks like an atheist, making a strong case for god being a figment of our imagination. But then he throws in a plug for Christianity.

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Guest: (123 days ago)

He didn't sound like any Atheist I've heard. He talks throughout about "the divine" - I didn't think Atheists believed in that stuff.

I think his point is simple. If there's a god then it's "utterly unhuman", but (as with pretty much everything we know about) humans tend to humanise it in order to think about it, talk about it, and try to understand it.

Obviously those ways that we talk and think about something have no effect on the nature of that thing, or even whether it exists or not.

Original comment

He didn't sound like any Atheist I've heard. He talks throughout about "the divine" - I didn't think Atheists believed in that stuff.

I think his point is simple. If there's a god then it's "utterly unhuman", but (as with pretty much everything we know about) humans tend to humanise it in order to think about it, talk about it, and try to understand it.

Obviously those ways that we talk and think about something have no effect on the nature of that thing, or even whether it exists or not.

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WalterEgo WalterEgo (122 days ago)

There are plenty of things that are 'utterly unhuman' - like intestines, or black holes - but there's no tendency for humans to humanise those. Could it be that's because they actually exist outside of our imagination, so there's no need to?

I think Aslan is confused.

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Original comment

There are plenty of things that are 'utterly unhuman' - like intestines, or black holes - but there's no tendency for humans to humanise those. Could it be that's because they actually exist outside of our imagination, so there's no need to?

I think Aslan is confused.

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Guest: (122 days ago)

Funnily enough, intestines and black holes are humanised, just possibly to a lesser extent. "Your intestines get a full work-out after your meal". Space . com: "Black holes eat matter". We do it so often we don't even think about it, as you've just shown.

Sometimes the more visual information we have, the more difficult it is to humanise, but we do it with everything: "the sun is hiding today", "that lasagne has seen better days", "London never sleeps".

I think it's you who is confused. It's a shame you're trying to elbow your personal faith into Aslan's simple observation about religion.

Original comment

Funnily enough, intestines and black holes are humanised, just possibly to a lesser extent. "Your intestines get a full work-out after your meal". Space . com: "Black holes eat matter". We do it so often we don't even think about it, as you've just shown.

Sometimes the more visual information we have, the more difficult it is to humanise, but we do it with everything: "the sun is hiding today", "that lasagne has seen better days", "London never sleeps".

I think it's you who is confused. It's a shame you're trying to elbow your personal faith into Aslan's simple observation about religion.

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