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Author Topic:   Origins of Hell
SuperNintendo Chalmers
Member (Idle past 4123 days)
Posts: 772
From: Bartlett, IL, USA
Joined: 12-27-2005


Message 1 of 28 (321849)
06-15-2006 12:08 PM


I would like this to be a sort of continuation of the thread:

www.evcforum.net/cgi-bin/dm.cgi?action=msg&f=31&t=20&m=1 -->www.evcforum.net/cgi-bin/dm.cgi?action=msg&f=31&t=20&m=1">http://www.evcforum.net/cgi-bin/dm.cgi?action=msg&f=31&t=20&m=1

about hello started by PD.

However, I would like to focuse more on the origins of hell... as opposed to whether the concept of hell is supported by scripture...although this can certainly be discussed as well.

From my admittedly limited research it appears that the concept of hell is a deliberate mis-translation of scripture...

The question is then: where did this idea come from?

I have always assumed it was invented as a scare tactic to control people and drive them towards the church and to obey the commands of the church.

I found some interesting thoughts here:


It is a God dishonoring doctrine, and was handed down to us by the heathen converts to Christianity in the early years of the third century. These converts were anxious to reconcile their new faith with their former pagan systems. Through these so-called early church fathers many other errors entered the church until the whole system of Christianity was corrupted.

At first the hell fire doctrine was held by only a few, but as time went on it became quite popular with those who were only part Christian and part heathen—men who wore the philosopher's garb to their dying day and who are responsible for all the errors that have disgraced the church from that time to the present.

Tertullian, who wrote about 200 to 220 A.D., is said to be the first of the early Christian fathers who openly taught the doctrine of an eternal hell of torture. He wrote thus:

"How shall I admire, how laugh, how rejoice, how exult when I behold so many proud monarchs and fancied gods, groaning in the lowest abyss of darkness; so many magistrates who persecuted the name of the Lord, liquefying in fiercer fires than they ever kindled against the Christians; so many sage philosophers blushing in red-hot flames with their deluded scholars, so many celebrated poets trembling before the tribunal not of Minos, but of Christ; so many tragedians more tuneful in expression of their own sufferings; so many dancers."—Gibbon's Decline and Fall. Vol. I Ch. 15, Page 537.

Gibbon stops abruptly, and adds:

"But the humanity of the reader will permit me to draw the veil over the rest of the infernal description."

The next writer of note to teach this doctrine was Augustine, and little by little it became a part of the religious teaching of the church during the years of moral darkness that followed the third century.

St. Augustine was a great lover of the Platonic system of philosophy and studied the Bible from a Platonic view.

"Of all the fathers of the Latin church," says Villemain, "St. Augustine manifested the most imagination in theology."

He was a poor Greek scholar and understood nothing of Hebrew but was quite a good scholar in Latin, and an eloquent speaker. He taught and wrote during the most corrupt state of the church. The "mystery of iniquity," which Paul said was already working in his day, was now bearing fruit in the development of error and intolerance. All sorts of pagan practices and doctrines were already incorporated into the so-called Christian church. Hell became the "shibboleth" of the priests—the "big stick" of a false religion to drive men to a fallen church.

The whole idea of hell as taught in our day can be traced to the old pagan systems of Greece and Rome. Even to the present day there are some who quote St. Augustine as authority for this doctrine. Addis and Arnold's Catholic Dictionary, says:

"So great a punishment says St. Augustine that no torment known to us can be compared with it." - Article Hell.

St. Gregory Nazianzen believed that the punishment of sinners in the next world would not last forever; and St. Jerome believed and taught that all sinners would suffer eternally, except those who had died in the Catholic faith. That the suffering of these might be mitigated by the prayers and good works of the faithful, was taught by many early Catholic Saints. Even unbaptized infants are consigned to hell by some of these. They had a limbus infantum for the children, probably a little side show in hell itself. The haste with which some send for a minister or priest to sprinkle a dying infant, is evidence of the fact that some churches still believe in the damnation of unbaptized children.

from http://www.biblestudy.org/basicart/hell.html

I also saw some interesting stuff here: http://www.auburn.edu/~allenkc/tbhell.html

The pre-christian origins of hell are discussed here:


http://www.homestead.com/bibleorigins*net/hellsorigins.html

Mention is made in Revelation of a "lake of fire" set aside for the ungodly and the Devil (Serpent). My studies of Mesopotamian myths have failed to identify the above motifs in their notions of the underworld. It is a different case, however, with the Egyptian and Greek myths.

Mesopotamian myths make no mention of a "lake of fire" or a body of water that is fiery in the underworld. In the below quote Ningishzida is a Sumerian tree/serpent deity who can assume various forms, a serpent-dragon or human.

Ningishzida's journey to the underworld, portrays him with hands and neck bound by a demon, who is about to sail a barge on a river leading to the underworld. Ningishzida's sister, addressing him as "Damu" pleads to board the craft with her brother. He attempts to dissuade her, telling her, he goes against his will bound by a demon. He notes that there is no water in the river of the underworld, which seems strange as the boat he is on is using a river to get to the underworld. There is no mention here of "rivers of fire" like Greek myths, or a "lake of fire" as in Egyptian myths.

Nigishzida speaks to his sister :

"The river of the nether world produces no water, no water is drunk from it. (1 ms. adds: Why should you sail?) The fields of the nether world produce no grain, no flour is eaten from it. (1 ms. adds: Why should you sail?) The sheep of the nether world produce no wool, no cloth is woven from it. " (Ningishzida's Journey to the Underworld. Electronic Text Corpus of Sumerian Literature. http://www-etcsl.orient.ox.ac.uk/section1/tr173.htm)

Greek myths also fail to mention a "lake of fire," but they do mention a "fiery" river of the underworld, evidently a branch of the river Styx. This river is called Pyriphlegthon meaning "flaming with fire", sometimes shortened to Phlegethon meaning "the flaming."

Smith :

"Pyriphlegethon, that is, flaming with fire, the name of one of the rivers of the lower world." (p.631. "Pyriphlegethon." William Smith. A Classical Dictionary of Biography, Mythology, and Geography. London. John Murray. 1875)

"Phlegethon, i.e., the flaming, a river in the lower world, in whose channel flowed flames instead of water." (p.567. "Phlegethon." William Smith. A Classical Dictionary of Biography, Mythology, and Geography. London. John Murray. 1875)

I would like to here the opinions of those who know more about this subject than I do... as I have always wondered where the concept of hell came from and how it became part of (some) church doctrine


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AdminPD
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Message 2 of 28 (322119)
06-16-2006 4:39 AM


Thread moved here from the Proposed New Topics forum.

  
Faith
Member
Posts: 33332
From: Nevada, USA
Joined: 10-06-2001
Member Rating: 1.2


Message 3 of 28 (322355)
06-16-2006 3:40 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by SuperNintendo Chalmers
06-15-2006 12:08 PM


I can't claim to have any great historical knowledge on this subject, but I remember being quite surprised to find out that the concept of hell existed in versions of Hinduism and Buddhism, during the period when I was on my spiritual search, before I became a Christian. There are many hells in these religions, apparently designed to punish particular types of sins in this world, and they are all temporary, a sort of purgatory idea really I suppose, and they also have a paradise for the good. Illustrations of ferocious ugly demon "gods" in these religions also abound.

Also I think it interesting that when the Bible is translated, there is apparently usually always a concept in the target language that can be used to translate "hell" although there may be only a partial or vague correspondence in meaning. "Hell" is the English word that was used, "Inferna" is the Latin word that was used, "Hades" in the Greek, etc. This suggests that the idea of a place of the dead has always been a common idea among peoples, and in some cases a place where bad deeds are punished as well. I don't know what the pre-Christian meaning of the English "Hell" was. Suppose that would be an interesting bit of info.


This message is a reply to:
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Brian
Member (Idle past 3248 days)
Posts: 4659
From: Scotland
Joined: 10-22-2002


Message 4 of 28 (322358)
06-16-2006 3:49 PM
Reply to: Message 3 by Faith
06-16-2006 3:40 PM


Forum Rules?
I can't claim to have any great historical knowledge on this subject, but I remember being quite surprised to find out that the concept of hell existed in versions of Hinduism and Buddhism, during the period when I was on my spiritual search, before I became a Christian.

Can you provide evidence for the assertion that Hinduism and Buddhism have a concept of Hell?

Remember forum rule 4:

Points should be supported with evidence and/or reasoned argumentation.

Please don't just 'say' things, at least provide a link or something other than your 'experience'.

There are many hells in these religions,

Are there? Can you perhaps support this claim?

apparently designed to punish particular types of sins in this world

Sins? Aren't you mixing up your world religions?

Can you perhaps inform us as to what a 'sin' is in Hunduism and Buddhism?

and they are all temporary

Because?

a sort of purgatory idea really I suppose

Ah, forcing a denomination of Christianity on to faiths that are much older, can you describe the concept of 'purgatory' in whatever branch of Christianity you get this from and then explain 'purgatory' in Hinduism and Buddhism?

and they also have a paradise for the good.

Buddhism has a paradise?

Could you tell us what the paradise is in Hinduism and Buddhism?

Illustrations of ferocious ugly demon "gods" in these religions also abound.

I know this because?

Are you aware that everything you posted is in violation of Rule 4, Points should be supported with evidence and/or reasoned argumentation.

You haven't supported a single thing in your post.

Could you please provide supporting evidence, then perhaps I can address your claims.

Many Thanks.

Brian.


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arachnophilia
Member (Idle past 267 days)
Posts: 9069
From: god's waiting room
Joined: 05-21-2004


Message 5 of 28 (322364)
06-16-2006 3:55 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by SuperNintendo Chalmers
06-15-2006 12:08 PM


From my admittedly limited research it appears that the concept of hell is a deliberate mis-translation of scripture...

also, admittedly, i'm too lazy at just this precise second to defend the following argument:

i do not believe there was a deliberate mistranslation, but rather an evolution of the idea encompassed in the concept of "hell." part of this evolution, of course, is the introduction of foreign ideas, particularly greek.


אָרַח

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Brian
Member (Idle past 3248 days)
Posts: 4659
From: Scotland
Joined: 10-22-2002


Message 6 of 28 (322368)
06-16-2006 4:01 PM
Reply to: Message 5 by arachnophilia
06-16-2006 3:55 PM


Plotinus and neoplatonism
I would say that Plotinus' 'neoplatonism' certainly had an influence on the Christian concept of hell.

A 'soul' that could only go back to 'God' if it was 'clean' was a powerful weapon for the early church. Especially when Jesus' promise to return soon wasn't honoured.

Neoplatonism

Brian.

Edited by Brian, : No reason given.


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Faith
Member
Posts: 33332
From: Nevada, USA
Joined: 10-06-2001
Member Rating: 1.2


Message 7 of 28 (322370)
06-16-2006 4:03 PM
Reply to: Message 4 by Brian
06-16-2006 3:49 PM


Hindu and Buddhist Hells
Hinduism:

The hell is a dark world, filled with evil doers and their relentless cries of pain and agony, undergoing different kinds of torture and punishment as a consequence of their bad deeds in their previous lives. Unlike in other religions, the hell of Hindu religion is not ruled by an evil persona, but by Yama, a god of highest virtue, endowed with self-discipline and unmatched judging power. Aided by his court minister Chitragupta, who keeps an account of all the deeds done all the people upon earth, he administers justices and accords punishments to the beings who arrive at the doors of hell after completing their lives upon earth.

For many Hindus these two worlds are as real as their own. The possibility of going to heaven or hell through performing good or bad deeds in this world, coupled with a strong belief in the theory of karma, is what regulates the behavior of an average Hindu and influences his or her code of conduct upon earth.

http://hinduwebsite.com/heavenhell.asp

Buddhism:


Ullambana
The observance of Ullambana is based on the story of Maudgalyayana, a disciple of the Buddha. When Maudgalyayana's mother died, he wanted to know where she was reborn. Using his spiritual powers, he traveled into the hells and found her suffering miserably from hunger. He brought her a bowl of food, but when she tried to swallow it, the food turned into hot coals.

The distressed Maudgalyayana asked the Buddha, "Why is my mother suffering in the hells?"

The Buddha replied, "In her life as a human, she was stingy and greedy. This is her retribution." He advised, "Make offerings to the Sangha. The merit and virtue from this act will release your mother and others from the hells." As a result of Maudgalyana's offering, his mother and thousands of others were released from their unhappy state. After this, making offerings to release departed relatives and others from the hells became popular in Mahayana countries. Usually, it takes place in September.

THE WHEEL OF LIFE
Buddhists do not believe that death is the end of life. When one dies, one's consciousness leaves and enters one of the six paths of rebirth.
Heavenly Beings
Humans
Asuras are beings who have many good things in life, but still like to fight. They appear in the heavens or on earth as people or animals.
Hungry ghosts are beings who suffer from constant hunger.
Hell-beings

These are the six states on the wheel of life.

At the top are the heavens, where everyone is happy.

Below are the hells where the suffering is unbearable.

Beings can rise or fall from one path to another. If one does good deeds, one will be born into the paths of gods, humans, or asuras. If one does evil deeds, one will be born into the paths of animals, hungry ghosts, or hell-beings. From one life to the next one can suddenly change from an human to an animal or from a ghost to a hell-being, according to the things one has done.

{edit: added bolds}

http://online.sfsu.edu/~rone/Buddhism/footsteps.htm

As for the concept of purgatory, it was a simple description based on the fact that the hells are temporary -- you pay your time there and then are reborn somewhere else. Different from the Christian concept of an eternal place of torment.

Edited by Faith, : No reason given.

Edited by Faith, : No reason given.

Edited by Faith, : No reason given.

Edited by Faith, : No reason given.


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Replies to this message:
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Brian
Member (Idle past 3248 days)
Posts: 4659
From: Scotland
Joined: 10-22-2002


Message 8 of 28 (322374)
06-16-2006 4:16 PM
Reply to: Message 7 by Faith
06-16-2006 4:03 PM


Re: Hindu and Buddhist Hells
Thanks for the links you provided, but there are still some unsuported assertions.

There are many hells in these religions,

You have provided a link for Buddhist 'hells' but only from one branch of Buddhism, I just wonder if it is a universal teaching f Buddhism?

Perhaps I have missed the evidence for 'hells' in Hinduism?

You haven't supported the claim that Hindus and Buddhists 'sin', perhaps you are placing an alien concept on to these faiths?

Also:

Ah, forcing a denomination of Christianity on to faiths that are much older, can you describe the concept of 'purgatory' in whatever branch of Christianity you get this from and then explain 'purgatory' in Hinduism and Buddhism?

Also unsupported:

Buddhism has a paradise?

Could you tell us what the paradise is in Hinduism and Buddhism?

Also, you claim:

Illustrations of ferocious ugly demon "gods" in these religions also abound.

You blatantly contradict yourself with this information from one of your links that tells us:

Unlike in other religions, the hell of Hindu religion is ruled by an evil persona, by Yama, a god of highest virtue

How does this 'supporting' information support you initial claim?

Perhaps you need to retract your claim about ferocious Hindu demon 'gods' of provide a link that actually supports your claim?

Brian.


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 Message 7 by Faith, posted 06-16-2006 4:03 PM Faith has responded

Replies to this message:
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Faith
Member
Posts: 33332
From: Nevada, USA
Joined: 10-06-2001
Member Rating: 1.2


Message 9 of 28 (322381)
06-16-2006 4:41 PM
Reply to: Message 8 by Brian
06-16-2006 4:16 PM


Re: Hindu and Buddhist Hells
I think perhaps you should read my post more carefully as you are attributing things to it I don't see there.

"Bad deeds" is equivalent to "sin" for purposes of this discussion, in which I made it clear the equivalences between cultures are not exact.

"Paradise" is a lesser heaven. Such a place or state is clearly described in the post. There is also the Paradise of "Pure Land Buddhism."

According to the Pure Land Sutras, composed in India in the 2d cent. A.D., Amitabha vowed to save all sentient beings by granting them rebirth in his realm, the "Western Paradise," a pure land endowed with miraculous characteristics ensuring its inhabitants easy entry into nirvana nirvana (nervä`n?), in Buddhism , Jainism , and Hinduism , a state of supreme liberation and bliss, contrasted to samsara or bondage in the repeating cycle of death and rebirth.

http://columbia.thefreedictionary.com/Pure+Land+Buddhism

I have collected some Buddhist demon images off Google images but do not know how to post them. Perhaps I could email them to you and you could post them?

I have run across MANY such illustrations in my reading, but haven't found many online yet.

I believe I said "some versions" of Buddhism and Hinduism have hells and heavens, as I am well aware that Zen for instance doesn't -- or at least doesn't regard them as locations.

Hindu multiple hells are discussed on the same site I quoted:

At a much deeper level of understanding, Hindu scriptures do not conclude with the description of just one heaven and one hell. Frankly, Hindus well versed in scriptures, do not believe in just one heaven or one hell. They believe in multiple heavens or worlds of light and multiple hells or world of darkness stretching across the vast spaces of the manifest universe. According to Hindu cosmology, creation is an endless phenomenon and as mysterious as the mystery of the Divinity itself. Creation is God's play (leela) and measuring its dimensions is not possible even for the gods. The universe consists of multiple worlds, layers and planes of existence, some known and some unknown, some within the field of awareness and sensory knowledge and some much beyond. These worlds are inhabited and controlled by different powers, beings, objects, energies, deities and mysterious events. It is difficult to specify how many such worlds are identified by the scriptures.
http://hinduwebsite.com/heavenhell.asp

Edited by Faith, : No reason given.

Edited by Faith, : No reason given.

Edited by Faith, : No reason given.

Edited by Faith, : No reason given.

Edited by Faith, : No reason given.

Edited by Faith, : No reason given.

Edited by Faith, : No reason given.

Edited by Faith, : No reason given.


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Faith
Member
Posts: 33332
From: Nevada, USA
Joined: 10-06-2001
Member Rating: 1.2


Message 10 of 28 (322392)
06-16-2006 5:45 PM
Reply to: Message 8 by Brian
06-16-2006 4:16 PM


Images of Buddhist and Hindu demon gods
I have collected the images but don't know how to post them. The links may not work because some of the images were on big pages of images and you won't know which one I targeted.

Buddhist demon image

--Actually that seems to be a painting of hell that I didn't mean to include. But it is a Buddhist production and it appears to have elements reminiscent of Hieronymous Bosch's paintings of Hell.

Buddhist demon god image

Book ad, Oracles and Demons of Tibet

buddhist demon god clip art

Buddhist image

Hindu female demon

dakhini or Hindu female demon

dakhini in San Francisco Krishna temple

The ferocious goddess Kali

Some Japanese Buddhist images

Edited by Faith, : No reason given.

Edited by Faith, : adding new links so as not to have to add a new post

Edited by Faith, : No reason given.


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AdminBuzsaw
Inactive Member


Message 11 of 28 (322453)
06-16-2006 11:41 PM
Reply to: Message 4 by Brian
06-16-2006 3:49 PM


Re: Forum Rules?
Brian writes:

Can you provide evidence for the assertion that Hinduism and Buddhism have a concept of Hell?

Remember forum rule 4:

Points should be supported with evidence and/or reasoned argumentation.

Please don't just 'say' things, at least provide a link or something other than your 'experience'.

As I understand item 4 of Forum Guidelines it does not specify that every little item must have documentation perse as per your accusation. It's fine to request documentation, but I see no violation of the spirit of 4 here by Faith. Read the whole item 4 which imo bears this out. Also we know that if we all try to document everything we post, it'd be silly and impractical.


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 Message 4 by Brian, posted 06-16-2006 3:49 PM Brian has responded

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rgb
Inactive Member


Message 12 of 28 (322472)
06-17-2006 1:02 AM
Reply to: Message 11 by AdminBuzsaw
06-16-2006 11:41 PM


Re: Forum Rules?
AdminBuzsaw writes
quote:
As I understand item 4 of Forum Guidelines it does not specify that every little item must have documentation perse as per your accusation.

While this is true...

quote:
It's fine to request documentation, but I see no violation of the spirit of 4 here by Faith.

Rule 4 states

Points should be supported with evidence and/or reasoned argumentation. Address rebuttals through the introduction of additional evidence or by enlarging upon the argument. Do not repeat previous points without further elaboration. Avoid bare assertions.

The way I interpret 4 is that, while it is impractical to provide link or evidence for every assertion we make, it is the spirit of 4 to provide some kind of link or evidence for assertions regarding topics or concepts that are exotic (or at least foreign to the listening crowd). After all, this is a primarily western forum where most people are not familiar, at an intimate level, with eastern philosophies or religion. It is reasonable to interpret that in this particular case 4 applies because of the foreign nature of the assertion in question.

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Faith
Member
Posts: 33332
From: Nevada, USA
Joined: 10-06-2001
Member Rating: 1.2


Message 13 of 28 (322485)
06-17-2006 2:07 AM
Reply to: Message 12 by rgb
06-17-2006 1:02 AM


Re: Forum Rules?
I think that is a fair assessment. I did think that maybe it had come up enough by now not to be all that new, and didn't want to clutter up the thread with it since it isn't straight to what the OP wanted. But I hope by now it's been amply documented.

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Brian
Member (Idle past 3248 days)
Posts: 4659
From: Scotland
Joined: 10-22-2002


Message 14 of 28 (322492)
06-17-2006 3:57 AM
Reply to: Message 9 by Faith
06-16-2006 4:41 PM


Re: Hindu and Buddhist Hells
I think perhaps you should read my post more carefully as you are attributing things to it I don't see there.

I think you could read it a bit more carefully yourself as you are claiming there are things in it that simply aren’t.

“Bad deeds" is equivalent to "sin" for purposes of this discussion, in which I made it clear the equivalences between cultures are not exact.

I don’t see where you claim this in message 3, the original post I replied to.

"Paradise" is a lesser heaven. Such a place or state is clearly described in the post. There is also the Paradise of "Pure Land Buddhism."

You know that Pure Land Buddhism is a tiny branch of Buddhism yet you make a sweeping claim for all of Buddhism when you say that Buddhism has a paradise? Truth is, only one small sect of Buddhism has a heaven, in general Buddhism doesn’t teach this.

To be accurate, you should have said, “and one small denomination of Buddhism has a type of heaven.”

I have collected some Buddhist demon images off Google images but do not know how to post them. Perhaps I could email them to you and you could post them?

It’s fine, I know there’s a realm comparable to hell in Buddhism, but you claim is that There are many hells in these religions, which is something you haven’t supported. In fact, it is something that one of your links contradicts.

Message 7 The hell is a dark world,

“The hell” singular is presented here, how does that fit with the initial claim?

You have also failed to remove the contradiction between the claim of ugly demon gods in Hinduism and Unlike in other religions, the hell of Hindu religion is ruled by an evil persona, by Yama, a god of highest virtue.

I believe I said "some versions" of Buddhism and Hinduism have hells and heavens, as I am well aware that Zen for instance doesn't -- or at least doesn't regard them as locations.

I don’t believe you did say “some versions”, at least I cannot see where you said this before this post, maybe I have missed it, can you point me to it?

Hindu multiple hells are discussed on the same site I quoted:

And your quote contradicts your earlier claim.

Brian.


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 Message 9 by Faith, posted 06-16-2006 4:41 PM Faith has responded

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Brian
Member (Idle past 3248 days)
Posts: 4659
From: Scotland
Joined: 10-22-2002


Message 15 of 28 (322493)
06-17-2006 4:02 AM
Reply to: Message 11 by AdminBuzsaw
06-16-2006 11:41 PM


Re: Forum Rules?
As I understand item 4 of Forum Guidelines it does not specify that every little item must have documentation perse as per your accusation.

It says 'points' should be supported, not a single point in Faith's post was supported. Although to be fair some are now.

It's fine to request documentation, but I see no violation of the spirit of 4 here by Faith.

I dont see it as unreasonable to support claims about faith's that aren't that generally not well known. But, when I see something posted that I believe to be inaccurate then what is wrong with asking for documentation?

the whole item 4 which imo bears this out. Also we know that if we all try to document everything we post, it'd be silly and impractical.

Well, I didn't ask her to document everything, which makes your point rather 'pointless' and silly.

Keep up the good work, nice to see the creo Admins sticking together.

Brian.


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 Message 11 by AdminBuzsaw, posted 06-16-2006 11:41 PM AdminBuzsaw has responded

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 Message 18 by AdminBuzsaw, posted 06-17-2006 8:42 AM Brian has not yet responded

    
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