Judasim vs. others in age


#1

A debate I listened to recently brought up the point that hinduism, among some other religions, predated Judaism. Made me think that this is a point I’ve not really prepared myself to respond to. The man making the point was an athiest. How would some of you respond?


#2

What’s to respond to?

According the Church, she is the Faith that founded the Universe.

On the secular plane, the earliest date for the Rg Vedas, the earliest form of Hinduism, dates to 1500 B.C. Abraham dates to c. 1700.

Illiteracy predates literacy. Which do you want?


#3

The suggestion that Judaism is just another in a long strand of man-made religions. I personally don’t hold this belief, but plenty do, and I’m hoping to see a good discussion of a) whether there is evidence of judaism predating other long-standing faiths, b) whether it matters, and c) discussion (as you provided) of whether finding written history of the origin of a faith gives it weight over the oral testimony of the people of a faith.

According the Church, she is the Faith that founded the Universe.

More accurately, she is the faith that explains the foundation of the universe. God founded it.

And an atheist would respond, “Why do I care what the Church believe in the matter.” A Hindu would respond in a similar fashion, probably stating that it was a Hindu God that founded the Universe, not the Catholic faith (or the triune God around which it centers).

On the secular plane, the earliest date for the Rg Vedas, the earliest form of Hinduism, dates to 1500 B.C. Abraham dates to c. 1700.

The earliest date fo the Vedas is then, but this isn’t the earliest form of Hinduism:

The earliest evidence for elements of Hinduism date back to the late Neolithic to the early Harappan period (5500–2600BCE).[43][44][45][46] The beliefs and practices of the pre-classical era (1500–500BCE) are called the “historical Vedic religion”. Modern Hinduism grew out of the Vedas, the oldest of which is the Rigveda, dated to 1700–1100BCE.[47]

This is from Wikipedia, with the original sources hyperlinked since so many question the validity of Wikipedia.

Illiteracy predates literacy.

Hindu scholars would agree and would point to the above evidence as support of the roots of Hinduism during a period of cultural illiteracy (which predates Abraham).

Which do you want?

Something other than cavelier dismissals. A real discussion.


#4

Abraham was and is a great man and this man who God made the leader of the early Judaism. This is the covenant God made with the Jews and circumcision was this sign.

890 years before Abraham was even born… a man who all People are from Noah was born. We know that in the bible God says that he cleansed the world of wickedness by flooding the world. The only man found Rightous before the LORD was Noah. Noah, his sons and their wives God protected them from the Flood and the Covenant God made to Noah was the rainbow that it be a reminder of what God had done and promissed to never to again.

Since the books of the old testiment is inspired by God and given to the Jews by God as He worked through Abraham, Moses, David, and the other prophets. The truth is the World is much bigger then that of which the Jews experienced and have written down. God’s covenient with the Jews was to prepair the world for Jesus.

We are all children of Abraham because Christ is a decendent of Abraham and through Baptism we are reborn in Christ. Jew or Gentile doesn’t matter through Christ we are all united.

We are all children of Noah because everyone before Noah died in the flood. We are all children of Adam since Noah is a child of Adam, but we have Noah and his 3 sons who went out into the world after the Flood and populated it. Over generations people distort God, his word, it’s meaning. It written in the Bible that this is True. That as time goes on pieces and understanding change and need to be corrected. So even if Abraham was 200 years before Hinduism it doesn’t matter be cause 390 years before him was Noah and his sons.

We have a period of time which the population of the World grew rapidly over 500 years we have several religions and beliefs on what God is, what God wants, and What God thinks. There was no written law of God at this time, there was no Bible only the words of man,

Information on how people like the hindu’s could of possibly got their gods from is explained in Justin Martyr in his First Apoligy.


#5

Interesting thread.

Many, if not most, primitive people had a belief in a high God. As mankind developed cities, a high God was rejected and a lush polytheism and, frequently, a state religion in which a ruler became a god ensued.

Hinduism certainly seems older than Christianity. Some of the questions I have about Hinduism are:

  1. How can Hinduism continue in the modern era when so much of the religion is tied to a caste system that seems unlikely to survive full democracy?

  2. It has always seemed to me that Hinduism grew after meeting Christianity. There was a growing belief in a Hindu divine trinity, etc. Does anyone have any information on this or am I wrong?

  3. It has always seemed to me that the eastern religions are pessimistic, to say the least. Hinduism, which on the surface, seems as if it might offer a better alternative, is, as I dug deeper, as pessimistic as any other eastern religion. Any comments?

God bless, Anne


#6

Weren’t pagans around before the Jews? And aren’t Hindus essentially pagan?


#7

Zoroastrianism is also a very old faith; if one trusts conservative followers to date it (as people here trust conservative followers of Judaism to date that), it’s been around since 6000 BC.

It seems to be doing fine, considering it is still the third largest organized religion in the world with some 781 million adherents.

  1. It has always seemed to me that Hinduism grew after meeting Christianity. There was a growing belief in a Hindu divine trinity, etc. Does anyone have any information on this or am I wrong?

As far as I know, the idea of the Trimurti has been around for quite a while, though it’s not necessarily a central doctrine.

  1. It has always seemed to me that the eastern religions are pessimistic, to say the least. Hinduism, which on the surface, seems as if it might offer a better alternative, is, as I dug deeper, as pessimistic as any other eastern religion. Any comments?

‘Life is suffering, strive for nirvana’ actually doesn’t work out to be all that different from ‘people are fallen, strive for heaven’. Both statements are founded on the imperfection of humanity, conclude that the present world isn’t a particularly nice place, and offer a goal not of improving it but of escaping it.


#8

This raged in the Hellenist age. Josephus wrote the Antiquities and Against Apion in repsonse. Manetho wrote for the Egyptians, Berossos for the Mesopotamians. Hesiod provided a basis for the Greeks and Romans.

Since the Hebrew Messiah killed all their gods (dead gods tell no tales. The Egyptian Copts circumcize as a sign of the triumph of the circumscized, ie. Hebrews), that more or less leaves in running only the Hindus and Chinese (there are no other long standing religions, and certainly none standing today. Zororastrianism would be close, but he’s post Moses, more on that below).

First, a start for the Hebrews: Biblical chronology puts Arabraham at 2136-1876 (depending on text) B.C. Not to get into too much detail, trying to link Genesis with archaelogy yields a similar date range. So I suggest to work with this.

The Chinese folk religion seems only to date in a recognizable form only from after this date, as its mythology presupposes a society that is only documented by archeology from the Shang 1600 BC - ca. 1046 BC. The semi- or completely legendly Xia would only push it back to 2070 BC. The complely mythological Three Kings and Five emperors on the basis of the legends themselves only would push it back to 2852 BCE to 2205 BCE. Chinese folk religion however is even more amorphous than Hinduism, so how valid it is as “long standing” in particular after the introduction of Buddhism and the reformulation of Confucius and Lao Tzu is another issue.

I’ll deal with Hinduism below.

b) whether it matters,

yes and no.

Compare for instance Lavoisier as the discover of Oxygen. He didn’t invent it in 1778, and it destroyed the belief in phlogiston. Similarly religious truth is assumed by all religions and philosophies to always have existed. So for instance Christianity comes in the fullness of time, but we confess that her founder also founded the universe.

and c) discussion (as you provided) of whether finding written history of the origin of a faith gives it weight over the oral testimony of the people of a faith.

You can. But that’s not going to help Hinduism.

The languages of the Rig Veda and the Avesta show that the Brahmans and the Magi (Zoroastrian priests) preserved the oral texts with remarkable accuracy. Given that both put religions meaning on the pronunciation of the texts themselves, this has implications for the question at hand.

Now linguistics can date (glottochronology) the languages, on the basis of the spread of Indo-European and Indo-Iranian languages. Which is where the dates for the Rig Veda come from. And it places them after Abraham, and nearly to the date of Moses. On linquistic evidence, Zoroaster also postdates Moses.

The problem of Hinduism also is that the texts presuppose a chariot based culture of warriors (as much as fundamentalist evangelicals presuppose mass literacy and printing: you can’t have Bible thumbers with their own Bible in the pew without them). The Avesta corroborates this. Such a culture doesn’t appear until 2000 BC. More below.

cont…


#9

More accurately, she is the faith that explains the foundation of the universe. God founded it.

For Her.

And an atheist would respond, “Why do I care what the Church believe in the matter.” A Hindu would respond in a similar fashion, probably stating that it was a Hindu God that founded the Universe, not the Catholic faith (or the triune God around which it centers).

The Lavoiser example: the proof is in the pudding.

The earliest date fo the Vedas is then, but this isn’t the earliest form of Hinduism:

The earliest evidence for anything like Hinduism is the texts from the state of Mitanni in Syria c. 1380 B.C.: it mentions Indo-Iranian gods and its horseman terminology is Indo-Iranian.

The absence of chariots in the Middle East and the Indus valley until after the apearance in the Andronovo culture helps identify where this culture came from (more on this below), and date the religion Indo-Iranian (predates the split of the Iranians and Zoroaster).

Now the Vedas also show a change in geography and society. The early Vedas revolve around the river Sarasvati (the cognate geography appears in the Avesta, and evidently in Afghanistan) and pastoral warriors. Later the Indus comes into prominence, and later still the Ganges. Only in the late Purusha Shukta does and the lower classes of merchants (showing them being a constituent separate class, which doesn’t happen in a pastoral nomadic society) and farmers (obviously later, after the settlement in the Indus and then Ganges basins). So the texts themselves so a shift of Hinduism geographical center and the religion’s society.

The remains of the Indus Valley civilization do not match the society of the Vedas at all. In other words, they do not play a role in the root and trunk of Hinduism. It is only with the Indo-Aryan invasion and settling in India that Hindism as we know it come into being (for instance the caste system is not in the Rig Veda) as the invaders and the settled conquered poplulation combined.

And it is not until the Upanishads (post King David) that the core beliefs of Hinduism (e.g. the Dhrama, which is to Hinduism what monotheism is to Judaism and Christianity) are threshed out.

Hindu scholars would agree and would point to the above evidence as support of the roots of Hinduism during a period of cultural illiteracy (which predates Abraham).

yes, but based on the language, the society it portrays and mythologizes, and the geography and archaeology, that period only goes back to after our date for Abraham.

And that’s only important because we are making much of Abraham’s covenant. If the Hindu wants to push the present agriculture based Hinduism back into the pastoral roots, remember, nothing in the Bible says that Abraham wasn’t familar with God before the covenant, so he can claim roots in his family’s faith.

Something other than cavelier dismissals. A real discussion.

You gave me more to discuss.


#10

I’ve partially answered this above. Linguistic, historic and archeological evidence points to 1000 BC for Zoroaster.

By then then we already have inscriptions in Biblical Hebrew.

‘Life is suffering, strive for nirvana’ actually doesn’t work out to be all that different from ‘people are fallen, strive for heaven’. Both statements are founded on the imperfection of humanity, conclude that the present world isn’t a particularly nice place, and offer a goal not of improving it but of escaping it.

Compare the Baptists who stamped out widow burning and those who promoted it as the need to satisfy karma, if you need to see the difference.


#11

Sure. I didn’t say the 6000-BCers were right :wink:

Compare the Baptists who stamped out widow burning and those who promoted it as the need to satisfy karma, if you need to see the difference.

How about I throw the slaveholding Israelites, the Christians of almost every stripe who practiced burning other kinds of Christians, and all those into the mix? If you want to try to determine whether one philosophy is better than another based on what people have tried to justify by it, nobody has a leg to stand on.

The core message of both items boils down to ‘life sucks, here’s the good way out’. I don’t see one presentation being more pessimistic than the other.


#12

You seem to be holding onto a progressive idea of building a utopia, in comparison to which religion (at least the liberal view of it) suffers. That utopia went up in smoke up the chimneys at Auschwitz: Germany was one of the most enlightented, sophisticated and progressive societies, and look what happened.

Or did you think humanism had a leg to stand on?

You seemed to have changed the topic, as I don’t know how slave owning (at least for the masters), nor heretic burning (at least for the inquisitors) is the message “life sucks.”

or is it the opiate of the people argument (I think Dinesh D’souza has answered that recently by pointing out why liberals find their opiate in agnosticism/atheism).

Perhaps to get more on point: something like 75% of all social services in India (hospitals, orphanages, etc.) in the 80’s were run by Christians (I don’t know what the statistics are now), who were less than 5% of the population. And it wasn’t the issue of development: Japan showed similar statistics.

Where were all the Hindus (and Muslims), Shintoists and Buddhists? Why the difference in social welfare, based only on the factor of religion, if they are “all the same” and are all equally disinterested in this life?

If they are all equally pessimistic with this world, only Hinduism and Buddhism are consistent, they cremate the body and say the whole thing is a delusion. Christians say you’re going to get your body back and be stuck with it, see reality as it is (and not in a mirror darkly), and have to deal with it for eternity.


#13

As much as any other well-intentioned philosophy.

You seemed to have changed the topic, as I don’t know how slave owning (at least for the masters), nor heretic burning (at least for the inquisitors) is the message “life sucks.”

I answered your tangent: you said ‘Compare the Baptists who stamped out widow burning and those who promoted it as the need to satisfy karma, if you need to see the difference’ – ‘the difference’ being the relative pessimism of eastern and western religions.


#14

Answered? At best you pointed hypocrisy of religions which work for social justice, at worst you refused to recognize those that don’t (Hinduism).

Then maybe I need you to thresh out your whining about pessimism to understand your complaint.


#15

I did neither – simply noted that in terms of the whole by-their-fruits thing, almost nobody comes out looking particularly good. The Quakers are the only people I can think of with anything approaching a blotless escutcheon, and they gave us Richard Nixon.

Then maybe I need you to thresh out your whining about pessimism to understand your complaint.

I don’t see how I haven’t been perfectly clear. The complaint was made that eastern religions are more ‘pessimistic’ than their western counterparts; I answered that both really boil down to the idea that the present life is a temporary inconvenience and present a way to get out of it; then you come in and want to do a comparison-contrast of practitioners of sati (which was not a universal practice by any means) and Baptist missionaries. I have no idea what you intended to accomplish by that, but answered anyway.


#16

You seem to be ignoring that there are not only rotten fruit, there are also rotten trees.

Nixon notes his disagreement with the Quakers, when he signed up. He wasn’t following Quaker principles then, and explicitly he said so. Thereafter I won’t go into.

I don’t see how I haven’t been perfectly clear. The complaint was made that eastern religions are more ‘pessimistic’ than their western counterparts; I answered that both really boil down to the idea that the present life is a temporary inconvenience and present a way to get out of it; then you come in and want to do a comparison-contrast of practitioners of sati (which was not a universal practice by any means) and Baptist missionaries. I have no idea what you intended to accomplish by that, but answered anyway.

So they’re not la meme chose? “really boil down” usually means =, no difference, the same thing, etc.

The dharmic religions all state the whole thing is a delusion and are trying to get out of it (reincarnation is NOT a good thing). Christianity says the world is so worthy that God came down to become a part of it, and renew it to make it eternal. No difference?


#17

Precious little. Whether the world was created good or not, both theologies preach that it is not currently perfect. Christianity is hellbent on escaping the problems of the world which it says were brought about by the fall of humanity; Hinduism, on escaping the problems of the world whether they are a natural part of it or a result of human action. While they disagree on the origin of suffering and there are distinct differences between nirvana and heaven or the perfected earth, that desire for escape is identical. Neither says ‘this is what we’ve got, let’s work with it’; both say ‘let’s get this over with as fast as we can’. That’s why I say they’re equally pessimistic.


#18

And you are preaching that it is?

Christianity is hellbent on escaping the problems of the world which it says were brought about by the fall of humanity

They can do a better job of it. All that involvement in hospitals, orhphanages, soup kitchens, social justice action, etc. weights one down from escaping all those problems.

Hinduism, on escaping the problems of the world whether they are a natural part of it or a result of human action. While they disagree on the origin of suffering and there are distinct differences between nirvana and heaven or the perfected earth, that desire for escape is identical.

So improvement of one’s lot is an escape?

Neither says ‘this is what we’ve got, let’s work with it’; both say ‘let’s get this over with as fast as we can’.

That’s quite a characature of Christianity. St. Paul specifically deals with the “let’s get this over with as fast as we can” and be with the Lord now. And something about holding onto whatever is good and worthy. In Hinduism, nothing is good and worthy, it’s all delusion.

That’s why I say they’re equally pessimistic.

I don’t think they’re the one who is pessimitic.


#19

Do you take me for Dr. Pangloss? My opinions of the world are not under scrutiny.

They can do a better job of it. All that involvement in hospitals, orhphanages, soup kitchens, social justice action, etc. weights one down from escaping all those problems.

As so many people here take pains to remind the rest of us, social ministry is not the primary concern of the Church: the salvation of souls is.

So improvement of one’s lot is an escape?

If that improvement requires shuffling off this mortal coil, how would it not be?

That’s quite a characature of Christianity. St. Paul specifically deals with the “let’s get this over with as fast as we can” and be with the Lord now. And something about holding onto whatever is good and worthy. In Hinduism, nothing is good and worthy, it’s all delusion.

Granted, it was a little tongue-in-cheek, although accurate for some few, generally short-lived branches of Christianity. Still, one does not see Hindus committing suicide en masse in the hope that this is the last go-round before getting off the carousel either.


#20

Judaism is much more recent than most religions - so Christianity is historically even more recent.

Age - like size, & like geographical spread - is no indication whatever of value. It is grossly illogical, & form of materialism, to draw conclusions about value from mere material size or spread. This is a lesson repeatedly underlined in the Bible. God is not often on the side of the big battalions - He approves of them, never because they are big, old, or extensive (for if they are, that is solely His doing; not theirs), but because they put themselves on His side in obedience to Him.

There were very few disciples in the Roman Empire to begin with - & hundreds of thousands of worshippers of the older gods. So the argument that makes age, numbers & geography evidence of value, would mean that Isis - a hugely popular goddess in the Greco-Roman world of the first century - was more valuable, & her worship truer, than that of Jesus, of whom almost no one had heard.

One of the obstacles to belief in Christ was precisely that it was a new thing - so the Christian apologists imitated the Jews in looking for ways of showing it was really far older than it seemed to be; the argument from age was regarded as important on all sides. Which is why Christians argued that Plato had borrowed from Moses; & that creation existed for the sake of the Church (an adaptation of a Jewish argument that it existed for Israel).

If Christians are to avoid making Christian belief look needlessly absurd, they have to avoid laughable & illogical nonsense of the kind that measures value by mere size. The absurdity & offence of Christian faith is in the Cross, which God has provided - not in the absurdities & offences we add to it by our carelessness. If Christ is rejected, it must be His Cross, & not our failings, that cause the rejection.

This error is like that which confuses the *amazing *or spectacular with the powerful - the power of Jesus Christ as our Lord & Saviour is shown, not by amazing & spectacular victories over the Romans; but by the far greater & descisive victory over sin & death & the devil which He won on the Cross in His seeming defeat & mortal agony. ***That ***is how God saves - not by a show of power & might as we reckon power & might. Man’s ideas of value - in religion as in everything else - are radically re-interpreted by the Cross.

Christian faith is valuable for one reason only, which includes & is the measure of all other arguments for it: Christ Himself. All that is good or redeemable in man’s religious quest finds its fulfilment in Him - not by being trashed outright, but by being corrected & purified. In this sense, Isis-worship existed so as to be purified by being subordinated to Him, so that it might cease to be the worship of an independent goddess, & become the veneration of a dependent creature, the BVM, not for her honour, but for His alone.

It cannot be too strongly emphasised that all creatures without exception exist solely for Jesus Christ. He is the sole & all-sufficient “excuse” for the existence of the entire created order. IOW - the universe is in all respects meaningless if it is not in all respects Christ-centred.


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