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Was there a real Jesus of Nazareth ?


mistermack
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On 1/18/2022 at 4:34 PM, Peterkin said:

Yep. Nothing depends on their position. For a theologian, there is a prior commitment, a faith, a canon to uphold: a great deal at stake. So I can understand why they're entrenched and will defend their position by any means at their disposal - even if it includes stretching credulity and accepting evidence unsupported by outside sources.  I think atheists should be more open-minded and consider a longer perspective.

But that's, again, a personal opinion.

 

Sometimes I wonder what leads people to believe in constructs not supported by any evidence.  Then I think back to my childhood when I was raised Catholic and went to church every Sunday from the time I was just a baby.  My parents weren't even all that strict compared to others in the community.  My public school held religion classes and if I got to school too early in the morning I had to go to the church which was next door to my grade school and sit through part of a daily mass.  I eventually became an alter boy...and the list goes on.  I never really believed most of it but I wasn't going to say it out loud.  The penalties for the skeptic are not only sever but eternal.  

There are certain ideals and constructs that require a lot more work and effort to sell to an otherwise skeptical audience.  Certain religions fit that description very well.  Wars have and will be fought...non believers will be damned to eternal suffering.  In general they will become the outcasts of society as it were.  If you want to vote on a new president the last category I would search is atheist.   It will take a millenia to undo the indoctrination(s).  

There are evidences for certain parts of every story but the most outlandish of claims in general have had the least evidentiary support...and that is the rub.

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On 1/15/2022 at 11:24 AM, Peterkin said:

That's because they were commissioned by a committee. The only NT book of which we have a reasonably reliable source is the epistles of Paul, and he probably did collect local folk tales and hearsay in his travels as a tax collector, as well as later, as a purveyor of the Christian startup. You have to admit, though, the franchise became phenomenally successful. There must have been something charismatic about the central figure to appeal to a wide range of cultural background. It's just universal enough to correspond to many ancient myths and just unique enough to be greeted as a novelty. 

People will believe what they want to believe if it serves a purpose.  I was going to say some of the stuff that flew in ancient times would not fly now but then again...

What if it would fly now?  What if someone could come along and make fact free statements that were popular?  And say them often enough to a crowd that didn't care if they were true or not?  What if they saw some benefit in either believing it or just telling others they believed it?  What if it gave them a leg up in some weird way?  What if it just confirmed other deep down long held strange biases?  

I mean if that were the case...almost any evidence free conspiracy could take hold at any time.  Propaganda would be consumed at alarming rates.  Long standing societies could crumble.   But thankfully we are even more civilized now and have all the info we need to debunk just about any theory if we want.  The age of enlightenment.  I am comforted that Big Foot and Loch Ness monsters and Santa Claus are not really even questioned anymore by the general public.  Well Santa after about age 7...and the others still make for good Nielson ratings.  Aliens?  I am almost certain we will uncover in a billion year old rock...a spaceship...or a human looking alien walking among us with DIFFERENT DNA or no DNA???

Evidence free or evidence based?  I had an argument with my wife the other day.  She asked if I had seen her sunglasses.  I said no.  She asked if I was sure.  I said yes.  Okay she said.  Then she found her sunglasses in my drawer where I keep my own sunglasses.  And I could have either said an invisible being must have done that...or apologized that I mistook her sunglasses for mine and put them in MY drawer where she puts NOTHING.  So I don't know what type of ghost took her sunglasses and was able to put them in my drawer with my fingerprints on them. But I have a very strong motivation to find out. 

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2 hours ago, Crocduck said:

There are certain ideals and constructs that require a lot more work and effort to sell to an otherwise skeptical audience. 

Universal health care? Diplomatic solutions to conflict? Climate change amelioration?

2 hours ago, Crocduck said:

Certain religions fit that description very well.

That's a piece of cake. People are eager to believe in eternal life and unconditional love. They swallow the bait before the hook begins to hurt.

50 minutes ago, Crocduck said:

What if someone could come along and make fact free statements that were popular? 

You hear any US news in the past 6 years?

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On 1/20/2022 at 7:36 AM, zapatos said:

 Also, the person who starts the thread is allowed to define what is and is not off-topic.

Is that entirely correct?

On 1/21/2022 at 8:13 AM, mistermack said:

Even though the huge numbers are purely the result of centuries of compulsion, and nothing to do with evidence, they still influence our thinking.

One thing I have learnt in my fruitful 77 years of life on this fart arse little blue orb, is that no matter how evidenced based and supported an argument/position is, there nearly always will be a counter argument, held by some. eg: The flat Earth society.

 

On 1/21/2022 at 11:24 AM, Peterkin said:

 My stance is: there was a charismatic revivalist preacher, and he had contemporary peers, disciples and imitators, the most successful of whom were identified with him by the followers, who later attributed to this composite memory everything that supported their belief. But the belief, the enthusiasm, the fanaticism  comes before the embellishments, not after.

And their supposed  adventures, and deeds were written up in an obscure manner, by equally obscure men, in an equally obscure age.

3 hours ago, Crocduck said:

Sometimes I wonder what leads people to believe in constructs not supported by any evidence.  Then I think back to my childhood when I was raised Catholic and went to church every Sunday from the time I was just a baby.  My parents weren't even all that strict compared to others in the community.  My public school held religion classes and if I got to school too early in the morning I had to go to the church which was next door to my grade school and sit through part of a daily mass.  I eventually became an alter boy...and the list goes on.  I never really believed most of it but I wasn't going to say it out loud.  The penalties for the skeptic are not only sever but eternal.  

I was raised a Catholic, went to a Catholic school all my life, and was an Altar boy, until the parish priest caught me and a fellow altar boy, drinking the altar wine behind the altar. I was also at one time going to be a priest! Did I believe it? Sure I did at the time! Afterall they literally put the fear of Christ (excuse the pun) in you if you didn't. Was there a Jesus? was there a Robin Hood? was there a King Arthur? Broadly speaking probably yes in all cases, although I couldn't be really sure. But of course the further back we go, the less certain we can be, and the more legendary and mythical status grows and matures about such possibilities. My favourite stories as a kid were about Camalot, Authur and his Knights, and Galahad and company. Most exist in  total obscurity. 

 

Edited by beecee
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1 hour ago, Peterkin said:

Universal health care? Diplomatic solutions to conflict? Climate change amelioration?

That's a piece of cake. People are eager to believe in eternal life and unconditional love. They swallow the bait before the hook begins to hurt.

You hear any US news in the past 6 years?

Sorry, I tried hard to type some sarcasm in there but it doesn't always come thru

 

39 minutes ago, Crocduck said:

Sorry, I tried hard to type some sarcasm in there but it doesn't always come thru

 

So let's see if I have the facts straight.  

Jesus was possibly/probably a real human.  He had some sayings that have lived on.  There are no known writing examples of any kind that date to his time alive.  Most of the credible sounding stuff are about the years from the time he was 30 years old.  I would assume Jesus (if God) could write.  Even if not about himself he could have written about his philosophy and he could have written so much that we might still find scraps today.  There is not a single artifact that can be attributed to arguably the most important human that ever "lived".  Not one!!

But the necessity of faith is the lack of evidence.  The less evidence the more faith you must have.  The more evidence the less faith you need.  

Edited by Crocduck
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2 hours ago, Crocduck said:

Jesus was possibly/probably a real human. 

One or more humans, yes. Not gods, not demigods, just itinerant preachers, carrying a message that people found hopeful in a difficult period of their history. It was the wrong message for most Judeans, who had been waiting and hoping for a rebel leader - a new king for the liberated Jews. The rebellion didn't materialize for another 30 years, and it was crushed. By then, of course, Christianity had sailed and they were not on board. 

But the message got through to other occupied peoples. More importantly, it got through to the Roman underclass, who were likely fed up with paying for all those far-away wars and palace intrigues; who had had their belief in the Roman pantheon eroded by bad emperors and diluted by the importation of pagan deities and primed for a fresh new religion. Every one of these people had some tradition of atonement through sacrifice and some tradition of a fertility deity who dies in winter and rises up again in spring.

For a good organizer and authoritative leader like Paul, it wasn't that hard to synthesize all these elements and pack in a good wallop of "It's all your fault. It'll be okay if you repent."   

3 hours ago, Crocduck said:

I would assume Jesus (if God) could write.

Why? How many gods, in which mythologies are supposed to have indulged in diaries or correspondence. They decree; they dictate; they send angels to announce. People wouldn't have expected written communication from their gods. (And, of course, I never once suggested that there was any supernatural entity involved - so why the "if God" condition?) The high priests and scribes valued documentation; the mendicants and common people didn't. 

 

3 hours ago, Crocduck said:

Even if not about himself he could have written about his philosophy and he could have written so much that we might still find scraps today. 

Maybe he/they/some of them could have, by why would they want to? They were preachers in the present, not prophets for the future. Different perspective.

 

3 hours ago, Crocduck said:

There is not a single artifact that can be attributed to arguably the most important human that ever "lived". 

They didn't think so, then. All that big importance is down to Roman hard sell, a few centuries later. All this man/these men were responsible for is starting a small cult with a few local cells. Nothing significant until Paul took them in hand and created disturbance is the empire - vandalism, mainly; disrupting religious services; getting himself arrested a lot - and recruited more malcontents. Eventually, Constantine took over and rolled over Europe.

Different perspective.

3 hours ago, Crocduck said:

But the necessity of faith is the lack of evidence.  The less evidence the more faith you must have.  The more evidence the less faith you need.  

That's not how spirituality works. Evidence is either subjective or irrelevant. Religion is emotion-based, not reason-based. Different standards, different metrics, different requirements, different perspectives.

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3 hours ago, Crocduck said:

But the necessity of faith is the lack of evidence.  The less evidence the more faith you must have.  The more evidence the less faith you need.  

Bingo!!!

38 minutes ago, Peterkin said:

That's not how spirituality works. Evidence is either subjective or irrelevant. Religion is emotion-based, not reason-based. Different standards, different metrics, different requirements, different perspectives.

Hmmm...Of course it is as Crockduck suggested:  the necessity of faith/spirituality is the lack of (scientific) evidence.  The less (scientific) evidence the more faith/spirituality you must have.  The more (scientific) evidence the less faith/spirituality you need.  (with a couple of additions of my own just to clarifiy)

43 minutes ago, Peterkin said:

Religion is emotion-based, not reason-based. Different standards, different metrics, different requirements, different perspectives.

Of course it is! That's why you need faith and to hell with the scientific evidence, or lack thereof. Religion is needed by the majority out of fear of the evidenced supported facts of the finality of death. That scares the bejesus out of many. They prefer that warm, fuzzy, inner comforting feeling, and knowing they can go out and practise their fornication and then come back and all is forgiven!😄 That's why Jesus is real to them..that's why he is the Son of God in their eyes! Good luck to them I say, as long as they don't spread silly anti science nonsense and rumours!!

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12 hours ago, beecee said:

Bingo!!!

Hmmm...Of course it is as Crockduck suggested:  the necessity of faith/spirituality is the lack of (scientific) evidence.  The less (scientific) evidence the more faith/spirituality you must have.  The more (scientific) evidence the less faith/spirituality you need.  (with a couple of additions of my own just to clarifiy)

Of course it is! That's why you need faith and to hell with the scientific evidence, or lack thereof. Religion is needed by the majority out of fear of the evidenced supported facts of the finality of death. That scares the bejesus out of many. They prefer that warm, fuzzy, inner comforting feeling, and knowing they can go out and practise their fornication and then come back and all is forgiven!😄 That's why Jesus is real to them..that's why he is the Son of God in their eyes! Good luck to them I say, as long as they don't spread silly anti science nonsense and rumours!!

Why are you talking about  the scientific evidence for the veracity of peoples beliefs in the past? What Peterkin is driving at is the evidence  for  what people believed in the past.... like a historian. You are barking up the wrong tree here. You need to step outside of your own bias and judgementalism in order to understand how religious ideas emerged in the past. You are judging the past through an emotive modern lens... you need to put yourself in the shoes of the people of the day. Your language is inappropriate for a rational, dispassionate discussion in the historical foundations of religion. 

Edited by StringJunky
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7 minutes ago, StringJunky said:

Why are you talking about  the scientific evidence for the veracity of peoples beliefs in the past? What Peterkin is driving at is the evidence  for  what people believed in the past.... like a historian. You are barking up the wrong tree here. You need to step outside of your own bias and judgementalism in order to understand how religious ideas emerged in the past. You are judging the past through an emotive modern lens... you need to put yourself in the shoes of the people of the day. Your language is inappropriate for a rational, dispassionate discussion in the historical foundations of religion. 

Well put +1

12 hours ago, beecee said:

They prefer that warm, fuzzy, inner comforting feeling, and knowing they can go out and practise their fornication and then come back and all is forgiven!

You can self flagellate all you want, I prefer to forgive me for that dirty little thought I'd never tell anyone... 😉

Besides, what's so wrong with "that warm, fuzzy, inner comforting feeling" I'd be content with that.

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14 minutes ago, dimreepr said:

Well put +1

Thanks. I think Peterkin is approaching the subject with the correct approach for which the Religion forum was intended. Some people seem to have religious PTSD from their own experiences, and seem unable to separate  a purely historical investigation from the mess of their own internal conflicts  with it. 

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5 minutes ago, StringJunky said:

Thanks. I think Peterkin is approaching the subject with the correct approach for which the Religion forum was intended. Some people seem to have religious PTSD from their own experiences, and seem unable to separate  a purely histotical investigation from the mess of their own internal conflicts  with it. 

Spoken like a true athiest...

Edit... Not a criticism 

Edited by dimreepr
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8 minutes ago, dimreepr said:

Spoken like a true athiest...

I take that as a compliment. :) There should be no grinding and swinging of axes in an anthropologically-based question like this.

Edited by StringJunky
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58 minutes ago, StringJunky said:

I think Peterkin is approaching the subject with the correct approach for which the Religion forum was intended.

Thank you for that. Anthropology, history and mythology are interesting. I've learned a few more interesting facts while looking things up for this thread, so it's not been a waste as far as i'm concerned.

My original source for early Christianity was Gibbon, and his sources were contemporary Roman archives. Very little was written about Judea before the revolt of 67CE - certainly no splashy miracles were recorded. But that doesn't really clash with the gospel stories, since the apostles keep their leader's miracles 'in the family' as it were; even the leper and the dead man were down in the poor people's marketplace. Jesus never did walk across Herod's swimming pool; never gave a command performance.

Quote

In the 1st century, healers and miracle workers were fairly well known, though not precisely common, and were not considered to be superhuman beings. https://www.britannica.com/biography/Jesus/The-relation-of-Jesus-teaching-to-the-Jewish-law

Reformers, prophets, preachers were common. Mostly unremarked, unless they were seen as a threat to public order or the establishment. They would not, generally, have been regarded as a threat to Rome. The local governors and priests did not have the authority to decree capital punishment against blasphemers - which, in any case, they would have done by stoning. Crucifixion was a Roman method, usually reserved for sedition and insurrection.

So, at some point in this time-line (I'm guessing more like a few decades into the Christian Era, rather than BCE), some rebellious voices are being herd briefly, silenced, then heard again someplace else. And all of those stories are later folded into the stories of religious reformers, miracle workers, healers, teachers, opposers of the status quo.

Remember that in the Judean tradition, religion, national identity and legitimacy of  rule are all intertwined. All the OT prophets kept exhorting the kings for breaking faith with their god and that's why they lose wars... against way bigger, better armed, better supplied, and better organized imperial armies. For them, adherence to religious law is intensely political. It's not hard to imagine, in the years leading up to that disastrous revolt, would-be religious reformers preaching sedition.      

(BTW - there is nothing warm and fuzzy about martyrdom. People who believe that deeply in something have a reason as well as a need.)

 

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2 hours ago, dimreepr said:

Spoken like a true athiest...

Edit... Not a criticism 

....and, ahem, not relevant either, for the reasons just expounded by @String Junky  😉

A good historian should be able to review evidence dispassionately, whatever his personal sympathies. 

26 minutes ago, Peterkin said:

Thank you for that. Anthropology, history and mythology are interesting. I've learned a few more interesting facts while looking things up for this thread, so it's not been a waste as far as i'm concerned.

My original source for early Christianity was Gibbon, and his sources were contemporary Roman archives. Very little was written about Judea before the revolt of 67CE - certainly no splashy miracles were recorded. But that doesn't really clash with the gospel stories, since the apostles keep their leader's miracles 'in the family' as it were; even the leper and the dead man were down in the poor people's marketplace. Jesus never did walk across Herod's swimming pool; never gave a command performance.

Reformers, prophets, preachers were common. Mostly unremarked, unless they were seen as a threat to public order or the establishment. They would not, generally, have been regarded as a threat to Rome. The local governors and priests did not have the authority to decree capital punishment against blasphemers - which, in any case, they would have done by stoning. Crucifixion was a Roman method, usually reserved for sedition and insurrection.

So, at some point in this time-line (I'm guessing more like a few decades into the Christian Era, rather than BCE), some rebellious voices are being herd briefly, silenced, then heard again someplace else. And all of those stories are later folded into the stories of religious reformers, miracle workers, healers, teachers, opposers of the status quo.

Remember that in the Judean tradition, religion, national identity and legitimacy of  rule are all intertwined. All the OT prophets kept exhorting the kings for breaking faith with their god and that's why they lose wars... against way bigger, better armed, better supplied, and better organized imperial armies. For them, adherence to religious law is intensely political. It's not hard to imagine, in the years leading up to that disastrous revolt, would-be religious reformers preaching sedition.      

(BTW - there is nothing warm and fuzzy about martyrdom. People who believe that deeply in something have a reason as well as a need.)

 

Your point about the rules for capital punishment is presumably why the gospel story includes that interrogation of Jesus by Pilate as to whether or not he considers himself a king and why Pilate (in the story) fudges it by inscribing "The King of the Jews" on the cross, to make the execution look legitimate, even though he doesn't believe it.    

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30 minutes ago, exchemist said:

Your point about the rules for capital punishment is presumably why the gospel story includes that interrogation of Jesus by Pilate as to whether or not he considers himself a king and why Pilate (in the story) fudges it by inscribing "The King of the Jews" on the cross, to make the execution look legitimate, even though he doesn't believe it.    

I wouldn't be a bit surprised if there were a certain amount of hand-washing between the local authority (whether puppet king or governor or high priest) and the colonial prefecture, doing one another favours for the overall purpose of keeping peace and stability in the region. That system broke down several times during the 1st c CE: After Herod's death, Palestine was divided into two or three separate regions, ineptly governed by his children. There is some confusion in the NT whether 'Jesus' was judged by Herod or his son Antipas. That also pushes the probable time of execution up into the CE, and closer to the revolt - perhaps even a contributing factor. 

https://www.britannica.com/biography/Jesus/Jewish-Palestine-at-the-time-of-Jesus

I'm relying heavily on Britannica for these references, because it's clear, concise and reliable.

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6 hours ago, StringJunky said:

Why are you talking about  the scientific evidence for the veracity of peoples beliefs in the past? What Peterkin is driving at is the evidence  for  what people believed in the past.... like a historian. 

My point is that much of this so called history is obscure...like Authur and his Knights. And of course the beliefs of the day were driven by lack of scientific knowledge.

6 hours ago, StringJunky said:

 You are barking up the wrong tree here. You need to step outside of your own bias and judgementalism in order to understand how religious ideas emerged in the past. You are judging the past through an emotive modern lens... you need to put yourself in the shoes of the people of the day. Your language is inappropriate for a rational, dispassionate discussion in the historical foundations of religion. 

Not at all. I have absolutely nothing against religious people, or religion. My one and only Mrs who I have been married to for 43 years is highly religious. I'm just not sure how one can quote history as facts, when the period was so obscure.

If I put myself in the shoes of the people of the day, with the same lack of scientific knowledge, yes perhaps  I may have even been one of his Apostles...who's to really know.

But hey, if I'm treading on some toes here, then my apologies, I 'll leave you to it.

4 hours ago, Peterkin said:

 (BTW - there is nothing warm and fuzzy about martyrdom. People who believe that deeply in something have a reason as well as a need.)

Yes, we have them still around today with these covid deniers. They also have reasons, albeit wrong reasons.

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1 hour ago, beecee said:

My point is that much of this so called history is obscure...

Circular would be nearer the mark. There's very little evidence of any Biblical characters or events for disinterested* historians to research. Ditto for archaeologists. The archaeology of the Levant has been subject to political control since it became a genuine discipline which has added to the problem of independent verification of people and events described in the NT.

*Disinterested means impartial, objective.

Edited by Arthur Smith
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1 hour ago, Arthur Smith said:

Circular would be nearer the mark. There's very little evidence of any Biblical characters or events for disinterested* historians to research. Ditto for archaeologists. The archaeology of the Levant has been subject to political control since it became a genuine discipline which has added to the problem of independent verification of people and events described in the NT.

*Disinterested means impartial, objective.

The history of the formation of religions and associated contemporary beliefs  can be viewed dispassionately. The political control of the archaeology would be part of a discussion on issues impeding archaeological/historical enquiries. Scientists/researchers in other fields also have political obstacles to overcome.

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2 hours ago, Arthur Smith said:

There's very little evidence of any Biblical characters or events for disinterested* historians to research.

The specific named characters, no. The circumstances* and conditions prevailing in the period, yes. Roman colonial history is quite well documented. I have never claimed  more than conjecture based on available circumstantial* and historical evidence, most of which I cited. 

* yes, I do know what 'disinterested' means, and I'm also aware of  how large a part circumstantial evidence (I know what that means, too) plays in historical reconstruction, scientific theory and criminal prosecution.  

Nobody's asking you to believe Christian lore.

Edited by Peterkin
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7 hours ago, Peterkin said:

The specific named characters, no. The circumstances* and conditions prevailing in the period, yes. Roman colonial history is quite well documented. I have never claimed  more than conjecture based on available circumstantial* and historical evidence, most of which I cited. 

* yes, I do know what 'disinterested' means, and I'm also aware of  how large a part circumstantial evidence (I know what that means, too) plays in historical reconstruction, scientific theory and criminal prosecution.  

Nobody's asking you to believe Christian lore.

Previously someone took my use of "terrestrial" to mean "land-based (non-aquatic)" rather than "(from the planet) Earth" and I didn't get chance to clarify before that thread closed. And I note there are contributors who may not have English as a first language. The clarification was not intended for any particular commenter.

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7 minutes ago, Arthur Smith said:

Previously someone took my use of "terrestrial" to mean "land-based (non-aquatic)" rather than "(from the planet) Earth" and I didn't get chance to clarify before that thread closed. And I note there are contributors who may not have English as a first language. The clarification was not intended for any particular commenter.

It does mean both earthly and land-dwelling. I don't see the application to this thread, or to my quoted comment.

Edited by Peterkin
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23 minutes ago, Peterkin said:

It does mean both earthly and land-dwelling. I don't see the application to this thread, or to my quoted comment.

Yes and I intended in the "not from Earth" sense. In context, I thought it was obvious but someone misunderstood. That it why I took the precaution in clarifying above. Again, this is an open forum.

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