Putting the Christ back in Christmas December 8, 2012Posted by shaunphilly in Skepticism and atheism.
Tags: Christianity, Christmas, Jesus, religion, war of Christmas
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I do love DarkMatter2525′s videos, and this latest one is no exception. This is sort of brilliant.
The Christian story is disgusting and, from my point of view, immoral. And while I’m no fan of Christmas, it is greatly improved as an old Roman/Pagan holiday about the solstice, gift-giving, and merry-making.
Meaning of the Jesus Story; History v. mythology November 22, 2012Posted by shaunphilly in Skepticism and atheism.
Tags: Christianity, history, Jesus, meaning, mythology, religion
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I was just catching up on some blogs this morning and read Jerry Coyne’s thoughts on the virgin birth, the resurrection, and their importance in Christian (specifically Catholic) faith. Towards the end, he says this:
…as has always been clear, the things that to Christians are non-negotiable “truths” of the Bible are those fables on which their faith rests most heavily. Therefore they can dispense with the parting of the Red Sea and the curing of lepers, [but] not with the Resurrection, which is the most important fable that Christians must accept as literal truth.
But if that’s the case, then why not treat Adam and Eve likewise?. For without the Original Duo, and Original Sin, the crucifixion and Resurrection of Jesus would make no sense (as they say, “Did Jesus die for a metaphor?”).
It is a set of points that I have thought about (and probably written about) myself over the years. But it got me thinking; How do we approach the significance of an idea depending on how historically reliable it is? How do we think about the meaning of an act if we think it really happened versus if it is a mythological metaphor for something? How do the standards of import differ in contrasting history from mythology?
If a friend took off work to do you a favor, that would be appreciated and would have some real import. If a person were to push you out of the way of a car, saving your life and sacrificing theirs, that has more import. For many, Jesus’ sacrifice, is seen as the superlative sacrifice. Further, it transcends the mere saving of a short mortal life, and becomes the transformation of an eternal life. We are all doomed to death/separation from god/whatever and Jesus steps in to take the bullet. And many believe this really happened, and is not merely a metaphor.
But our litany of stories from various religious, philosophical, and cultural sources contains a multitude of stories with moral, social, and philosophical import, many of which attempt such universality. And it is clear, at least to me, that these stories are myths, even if they contain some historical truth to any extent. They are, in essence, products of our imagination. The complicated morals, literary structures, etc that such stories convey, and often contain high moral and philosophical import, are fancy fabrications.
And while reality may occasionally, accidentally, resemble such fabrications in terms of narrative complexity, moral import, etc, the rule is that the design of mythology is better at creating meaning and import than reality. A narrative with more complex interwoven philosophical themes, governing more broad area of impact and importance, is more likely to be mythology. The story of the New Testament, with its universal import and intended (but ultimately failed) sacrificial plot, is a good example of a story which is clearly mythological, even if potentially based on historical facts.
So, the essence to my question today foes something like the following. If I believed that the Fall of Adam and Eve, as well as the resurrection, were literal things that happened, does that mean that the import of the acts involved have more impact than if they were mere stories about the human experience? Would the fact that these actions really happened give them greater impact, emotionally and philosophically, than if they were mere stories?
Consider my example of someone taking off of work to help you with some problem; imagine that this story were part of a religious canon, rather than a thing that really happened to you. If you found this story in the New Testament or the Koran, would you be impressed by it? Probably not. But if someone really did this, for you or someone you know, it would have some importance and meaning, even if it were a small amount of such. The fact that it is real gives it more import to your life, even if the act has less moral and philosophical complexity than mythology.
The thesis is that when things really happen, their personal and social importance is greater than if they were mythological. Mythology has to be exaggerated, embellished, or at least rare to survive as a story of significance. It may be that extraordinary real events inspire such mythology in some cases, but such stories always take on legendary status the more they are told and re-told, because story-tellers have to sell the story. Thus, we will microfy the import of a story which is mythological because we understand that it is embellished, whereas reality, which sits in front of us, is not.
So, a story about a sacrifice, in order to be held as ultimate import, has to become embellished. Religion, then, is part of our story-telling nature, and only stories with universal themes and import can survive to legendary status. And while these stories sit behind our lives as an influence for our behavior and beliefs, reality continues on and we continue to act in less than superlative, but meaningful ways.
And many religious apologists argue that this is what makes religion great; it stands as an example for us and helps preserve our cultural norms and values in narrative form. And for those that believe the stories are true, there is a greater amount of reverence towards those acts (and those who perform them), beyond mere inspiration. But, for those people who don’t believe the literal truth of these religious stories,such stories can still remain as inspirational narratives, even if the non-historical nature of the story takes something away.
Of course, by not believing they literally happened, one can also criticize the import and morality of the lesson. It seems more appropriate, for many, to criticize a story rather than a real act. If we see Jesus as a metaphorical example, and not literally a person (or god) who “died” for our sins, then we can hold him up as an example (even if not a great one) of what humans can do for one-another. But if he was (and is) god, then that fact puts the story on a level of import which dwarfs any mere myth. The same story, depending on whether it is true or not, has different import.
But here’s the problem; if stories such as the all and the resurrection are literally true, including that a god is behind it all, then the distinction between mythology and reality breaks down in this respect. The basis for real actions having inflated import is that such things occur within a real of minimal control over the circumstances, whereas in a story the composer has, well, god-like control over the circumstances. A friend taking work off to help you is only in control of their own actions (taking off work and helping you), not the circumstances which led them to have to make that choice.
The story of Jesus, if we saw him as a mere human who acted in the real world, could be of great import as an inspiration towards sacrifice and love (assuming we ignore the non-loving stuff in there, of course). But as an intentional creation of an all-powerful god, the Jesus story is designed, and poorly, because a better story could have been designed. The world could have been different, the sacrifice unnecessary, and a greater story could have been written. The more true the Bible is, the less powerful its story ultimately is; the more control the author of the story has, the less impressive it is.
As a set of inspirational stories, the New Testament has some philosophical and moral import on their own, but if Jesus was real and did a lot of the stuff in the gospel accounts, then the import increases because a person actually did those things, rather than them being idealistic narratives of some authors. But if God is real, and god designed and orchestrated the whole thing, then I’m not impressed, because I think that I could write a better story than that. God didn’t just compose the narrative of Jesus, but he also composed all of the circumstances which allowed them to be necessary. In short, God is a terrible composer of stories (and universes).
The Bible, as a collection of stories, is a work of human minds and hands. It takes the nature of the world, indifferent and often unpredictable, and comes up with a set of narratives which offer some consolation and moral import. Bu those imports are inflated, exaggerated, and as a result they take on universal import through hyperbolic fabrication, rather than by being real.
We, with our imagination, intelligence and articulate genius have come up with narratives which make reality look pale in comparison. Our stories tell us about our dreams and nightmares, hopes and fears, and our height and depth of philosophical notions. But what ends up mattering are the real acts, the non-miraculous human decisions, which have a real effect on our lives. Mythology might inspire,but it can only do so via exaggeration, by figurative flashing lights and shiny objects.
And, what’s worse is that the mythology, the meaning, of the essential Christian message is flawed and many subsequent stories have surpassed them in many ways. Not only is the Christian message not truly universal, it isn’t even good. So, not only should we not believe in the virgin birth or the resurrection, we should not even be inspired by such things. Fabricated acts have no real meaning in the world; they only can attempt to make reality seem pale in comparison, but often merely succeed in making themselves look artificial, forced, and Platonic.
So, while stories are fun and inspire the imagination, what ultimately matters is reality. Give me friends and lovers over a million Jesuses (Jesi?) any day.
Sunday, Bloody Easter April 7, 2012Posted by shaunphilly in Culture and Society, Religion, Skepticism and atheism.
Tags: crucifixion, Easter, Jesus, religion, resurrection
Jesus had a bad weekend for your sins.
Listen, I don’t accept the crucifixion and then the story of how Jesus rose on the third day for a second. There is simply no corroborating evidence for it, it parallels too many pre-Christian stories, and the oldest Gospel, Mark, didn’t originally contain the story of the resurrection. There is a lot out there to read about the issue of the resurrection, and I am certainly no expert (although I know one person who has expertise in related academic fields), so I will leave it to them to address that particular issue in more detail.
But if I did accept the story, that is, the bare facts that some guy (let’s call him Jesus, Yeshua, or Frank for all I care) almost 2000 years ago was wandering around with 12 dudes while preaching about some messianic Jewish story or how the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand, or possibly within you, was arrested, detained, questions, tortured, crucified, and then buried only to appear, alive, a couple of days later…. Well, so what?
Let’s say that I was willing to grant that this happened. It does not have to mean I have to accept the interpretation of those who claimed to have been witnesses. I don’t have to accept the dominant narrative that evolved into the Gospel stories nor the earlier Pauline accounts, via his letters to other people who started worshiping this guy around the Mediterranean Sea, do I?. In fact, this historical fact, if assumed true, does not address the existence of any gods at all, necessarily (nor does it address whether that person was a god, let alone THE god…or at least one of three hypostases of god…whatever). It would be a mysterious situation that would pique my curiosity (and skepticism), but if it happened then we would have to deal with it as a real event and figure out how it might have heppened.
The problem is that we are so far removed from the historical events, blind to essential details, that the type of necessary investigation would be impossible. There is nothing to do with the facts other than wonder about them. So, what does this type of story have to do with god, religion, hundreds of years of violence, repression of scientific and intellectual freedom to advance, and hierarchical infrastructures of people whom are generally automatically revered because they apparently know this guy who rose from the “dead”?
In a word; nothing. At least it shouldn’t, if we were being rational about things.
Many Christian apologists have claimed that what makes Christianity unique is the fact that it is based upon not mere mythology, but historical fact. Paul, in the first letter to the Corinthians famously said that
15:14 And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain.
and for many Christians this is the crux (lol) of the matter. For them, the “miracle” of the resurrection is the fact that defines their faith. And despite the fact that I (as well as many other people) do not think that it happened, this is irrelevant because even if it did actually happen it does not lead to the salvation story that many Christians want it to tell.
What happened to Jesus, if it happened at all like it is portrayed in Christian orthodox theological terms, was not a sacrifice. If Jesus was god, or at least one with god, and if Jesus knew this, then it is not a sacrifice because he suffered no actual harm and no real loss,. It is a bad couple of days, a stubbed toe, an inconvenient breeze in the face of eternity as a freaking all-powerful god! It would be less of a sacrifice than the sacrifice of effort and time it would take to flip a switch within arm’s length in order to save people from certain death by some killing machine, created by some super-villain.
Except in the case of Christianity, God is not only the switch-flipper, but God is also the mad super-villain who created the killing machine as well as the switch itself. I simply cannot find meaning in this Easter story beyond metaphors for all sorts of themes surrounding rebirth, which are used by most religious traditions and which don’t imply that we are all evil sinners worthy of eternal torture for being what God made us to be so that he would have to send himself to have a bad couple of days to make up for lack of good planning concerning the fate of billions of people throughout all of history.
Yeah, that’s the story of Christianity, people.
Ok, so what if Jesus was a man, albeit a unique and important one? What if Jesus was a man inspired by a true god, or at least the chosen messenger of god, whose efforts in delivering said message would be rewarded with eternal paradise on the right hand, or even down the street from, the real God of the universe(s)? Then it is merely a form of substitutional atonement; an awful event, morally, if ever there was one. I’ve heard the apologetic responses, but the story of the atonement, or the replacing of the sacrificial sheep with Jesus (the most unblemished of sacrificial lambs) is absurd. How does another person dying do anything for my imperfections? The level of theological rationalization around this issue is frankly staggering, and we need to see it for what it is. The idea simply makes no sense, whatsoever, and it robs us of our personal responsibility for our own misdeeds.
Jesus dying for our sins, whether as god or man (or as some weird genetic cross-breed of god-man), is quite simply absurd and silly. It appeals to us emotionally and can be rationalized into some meaningful pulp, but it has no nutritional value whatsoever. It is irrational, un-skeptical, and even immoral in nature.
If anything, it’s just another old religious metaphor for the rebirth of the world, in Spring, from the death that is winter, with the addition of theological concepts which absorb us in self-deprecation and is ultimately anti-life. You know, like symbols reminiscent of life, birth, and youth but bathed in blood and depressing self-hate.
Oh, right, yes we do! Symbols of fertility, birth/rebirth, and youth surround our more secularized version of Easter. Pagan will try to take credit, and they do deserve some of it, but this is simply human behavior; we want a way to symbolize and celebrate the return of life to the world. Our history and literature is replete with such symbols and celebrations, and Christianity has (once again) seized them and used them as their own.
But in this case, the thieving Christians, specifically the Catholic Church, didn’t even have the common decency to re-name the holiday! Easter? really? EASTER?
I mean, come on, people? It’s bad enough that Christians stole Christmas, but at least in that case they chose an original name, right?
So, here is Ostara (she goes by many names, but essentially she is Ēostre/Easter. Check the link if you want to know more about the pagan mythology and history of celebrations and rituals surrounding her and this time of year. But if you don’t, at least take home with you the idea that this holiday is not merely Christian, and insofar as it is Christian it is not the story that the Pope or your pastor tells on Easter morning.
Please, learn your history. If you are a Christian, please learn where your ideas came from. Try to understand the context, the subtleties, and even the blatant cultural influences which shape how you see the world. View the Jesus story as a metaphor, a metaphorical narrative, and possibly not a very good one, which tells you something about our psychology and needs, but not about historical or metaphysical truth.
Jesus, if such a person existed and died via crucifixion, is not the solution to your sense of ultimate personal lacking. Your imperfections, misdeeds, and falling short of some ideal morality cannot be solved by a person dying, nor subsequent rising from said death, nor from some contrived ‘God sacrifices himself to himself to make up for a law he made about a piece of fruit that nobody ever actually ate’ theology. You must take responsibility for yourself, toss aside this metaphysical concept of sin, and stop sacrificing this life for some promised other life.
This life is all we have, and we must do what we can to make it all that we want it to be. So stop bowing to a pseudo-sacrifice and start living in a world which is currently blooming with things wonderful, terrible, and worth working for now
Happy Easter, everyone.
Merry Christmas Pagans! (reprise) December 13, 2011Posted by shaunphilly in Culture and Society.
Tags: Christmas, hemant mehta, history of Christmas, Jesus, pagan, The Thinking Atheist
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A couple of years ago I wrote this little brief history of Christmas which showed how the holiday was derived from Pagan traditions and had little to do with Jesus. If you have not yet read it, take a look.
I was prompted to bring it up because I saw this video (H/T Hemant Mehta) just now and it touches a lot of the same points (Although my post covers more).
So, merry whatever everyone!
Hey Christians, can I have your house on May 21st? May 17, 2011Posted by shaunphilly in religion, atheism, polyamory, culture.
Tags: apocalypse, end of the world, Harold Camping, Jesus, May 21, may 21 2011, rapture
In case you have not seen the billboards, bumper stickers, literature being passed out in the street, or any of the news coverage, Jesus is coming back this Saturday, May 21st, 2011. No specific time of day was given.
This campaign was initiated by Harold Camping, who has some experience with predicting the date of Jesus’ return (see below)
And what’s even more impressive about this knowledge that Harold Camping acquired is that not even Jesus knew:
24:36 But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.
and further in the same chapter:
24:43 But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up.
24:44 Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.
In other words, the book of Matthew, as well as a few other New Testament books, claim that we can’t know when this ‘prophecy’ will happen. It’s amazing that some academic or priest did not discover this 1500 years ago, or even 200 years ago. It always seem that when some discovery like this is made, it is coming soon. The cynic in me thinks that Bible ‘scholars’ have a bunch of interpretable dates saved up which they drag out a year or so before they come around.
A modest proposal (No, not that one Swift!)
But, in any case, I have a proposal for any Christians out there. See, I’ve been unemployed for some time, and don’t have a lot to speak of financially these days. I’ll bet there are a few real Christians out there (the ones who accept this looming date, of course) who have a few bucks, a house, etc which they will not need come rapture, so I figured they could help me out. See, this prediction is about the return of Christ, not the end of the world (that is not until October!), so for those who will be going up to heaven on Saturday, you will not need all those nice things for the next few months, but struggling people out there, like myself, might.
This may even be a boon for our economic issues. With all those good Christians leaving (and of course God makes sure that those good Christians are employed and comfortable, right?), there will be jobs available to fill their vacancies. With our new found jobs (for as long as they last; remember October…) there will be less unemployment, more to go around, and less Christians, at that. Sounds like paradise, and I can’t wait!
See, once Jesus really does come back and I am left with the tribulation of the last months of existence, I might as well have money so that I can…help other people prepare for the end? And while I’m helping, I’m sure that 55-inch plasma TV I have coming will allow me to watch the news coverage as well as keep up on my new favorite televangelist (I assume some will remain behind). Plus, why not enjoy the last months I will have, whether it is heaven, hell, or oblivion which follows?
What do you need with your money after Friday anyway? This guy has the idea right.
If you really believed, you would not be worried about losing anything, so why not give all of your money and valuables to people like me?
Thanks, in advance.
Oh, right, Harold Camping. He predicted the return of Jesus in 1994. Here’s some video. Man I love the internet!
(BTW, real Christians don’t watch this until after you give me your stuff. Thanks)
Quotes From Bizarro World: part 3 September 20, 2010Posted by shaunphilly in religion, atheism, polyamory, culture.
Tags: god, Holy Spirit, Jesus, John Frame, Nicaea, Salvation Belongs to the Lord, trinity
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This is a continuation of a series of quotations from, and commentary of, my reading of John Frame’s book, Salvation Belongs to the Lord, which I am reading for a class about faith in Christian life. I will be under-cover, so shhhhh…..
So, what shall we speak of today?
Oh, joy! That’s an easy one that can be covered in a blog post, right? Well, no. I would just like to quote Frame from the chapter entitled God, Three in One and makes a few observations.
Remember, though, that Scripture gives us only a glimpse, not a treatise…. Much that the Bible teaches about the Trinity is very mysterious, and we must bow in humility as we enter into this holy realm
So, in other words the Bible is vague about this doctrine, but we are going to humble ourselves before it anyway? OK, I thought that the Bible was the ultimate source of truth, and so where it is vague we will simply humble ourselves to a view that was attained through latter interpretation of vague verses? I’m getting ahead of myself….
Frame then lists 5 assertions (his term), which I will simplify into a list.
- God is One
- God is Three
- The three persons are all each fully God
- Each person is distinct from each-other
- They are related eternally as Father, Son, Holy Spirit
Ok, let’s start with #1. I don’t believe it, but I understand. How about #2? I don’t believe it but I understand…that is until my memory reminds me that #1 said something which flatly contradicts #2.
So, after I pick up the pieces of my exploded brain, I take a deep breath and try to move onto #3. I can’t. My brain is still experiencing some sort of stop error, and I cannot move on. The first two assertions are purely contradictory. But this is supposed to be a mystery. And besides, my mind, intellect, etc are fallen, sinful, and broken. I am not supposed to understand, but just accept.
Except that the Bible is vague on this point….
Let’s move on. Frame says that there have been “debates over the deity of Christ.” Not just in modern times, but in ancient times. During the 3rd and 4th centuries, many views of Jesus conflicted among the early Christians, even though Frame does say later (in chapter 10 entitled Who is Jesus Christ?) that there is no debate in the NT about this issue. One wonders how now-heretical views could have formed without Scriptural basis? Probably it has something to do with the fact that the canonical books that became the Bible had not been declared canon until after 325 AD. Before then there were other texts being considered as authoritative by many people. Many of these books are gone, some have been subsequently found.
Still, continues Frame,
But the conclusion of the Christian church since its inception, and the conclusion of the Bible itself, is that Father, Son, and Spirit are each fully God.
Sure, the Bible as voted one by councils in the 4th century (starting with Nicaea). The letters, gospels, etc that created a theological problem for this view were considered heretical, and often destroyed. So, while the scriptures that became canonical were vague at best, other writings made this issue even less clear when considered. Modern readers often do not know about these non-canonical texts, and so they are out of mind. Still the Bible we have is vague about this doctrine, but this idea is central to most Christian theology almost without question.
Yeah, that makes sense….
Frame adds this;
The work of theology is not just reading through the Scriptures but applying the Scriptures to the questions people ask, applying it to their needs.
Seems innocuous enough. Then you start to think about it. Theology is an attempt to categorize what is written. It is an attempt to make sense out of the Scripture in terms of what matters to us in our lives, right? Why would the Trinity be necessary for this?
Let’s follow the trail and see where Frame leads us. At the end of the chapter, Frame tells us that
If Jesus the Son of God is only a creature, [Athanasius] said, then we are guilty of idolatry….[Jesus] is worthy of worship only if he is equal to the Father….”
and then further down the page,
If the Arians were right…then we are hoping to be saved from sin through a mere creature. Only if Jesus is fully God, a member of the ontological Trinity, can he save us from our sins.
Ah! I see now. The Trinity becomes a doctrine to explain how Jesus, his so-called sacrifice, is able to have theological import. The Trinity is a solution to a problem of getting to where theologians want to get; salvation. It’s a puzzle-solution, not a philosophical methodology for figuring out what is true, lines up with reality, or anything like that. (Heresy!).
If you read the New Testament, you will not find a clear treatise on the Trinity. Jesus does not say he is equal to the Father and the Spirit, that they are all 3 persons of the same substance, or anything like that.
But Jesus is supposed to have said something things that would have been heretical to the Jewish establishment and which identified him as at least similar to God. The whole “Son of Man” thing, the doing of miracles, etc. So, by taking these puzzle pieces and structuring them into the Trinitarian formula, Athanasius and the early church along with him put together a coherent whole that, while not sensible, seeks to harmonize the claims of the gospels, Paul’s writings, etc. It’s a matter of creating the appearance of coherence in God’s Word, not in making sense of reality based on logic, rational enquiry, or (gods! no!) any proto-scientific method.
This seems to me to be a strange, backwards, way to figure out a mystery. Philosophical methodology might ask you to figure out what is logically possible then try to apply that to what is found. Here, logical possibility is thrown out as a criteria because we are broken, body and mind. The Word is the authority, our minds are broken.
We cannot trust ourselves, our minds, or rational thought.
Well, all there is to do under those conditions is believe, right?
Don’t think about that too hard.
Quotes from Bizarro World (2) September 11, 2010Posted by shaunphilly in religion, atheism, polyamory, culture.
Tags: crucifixion, Jesus, John M. Frame, Salvation Belongs to the Lord, sin, theology
This is a continuation of a series of quotations from, and commentary of, my reading of John Frame’s book, Salvation Belongs to the Lord, which I am reading for a class about faith in Christian life. I will be under-cover, so shhhhh…..
“as believers in Christ we don’t get what we deserve. We deserve death, but God has placed that punishment of death on his Son. In Jesus’ death he gets what we deserve….”
Now, this quotation brings up nothing new to me, but I think it is more valid to quote what an actual Christian says than to try and summarize based upon generalities. This way, no straw-men are hurt in the writing of this post.
This common theme, that we are all sinners worthy of death, is disturbing to me. It is not disturbing in the way that Frame, and other Christians, may expect it to be disturbing; I am not worried about the death that I deserve. I’m disturbed because this view seeks to distract us from this world, a world of this magical and mythological thing called ‘sin’ which supposedly pervades our very being.
Christian theology seeks, fundamentally, to make us feel broken. It is a great marketing technique to make the customer feel like they lack something, then to present them with a product to fill that gap. The fact that religion tends to use this method quite frequently explains that it’s success has to do with how our brains work and are manipulated much more than religious messages being true.
But what are they selling? Belief in Jesus, right? Well, yes, but it is done through this substitutional atonement; Jesus suffered for your sins. This makes no sense at all, but it seems sweet of him to try. This substitutional framework is mirrored on the idea that Adam, who represents us in his fall from the “covenant of works” (by which humanity was tested to see if they could obey God’s laws and failed in the eating of the fruit of the tree…you know the story). Adam failed, Adam represents us. Jesus succeeded, and Jesus seeks to represent us if we would only believe….
There is something in the mind that catches at this. It is a subtle psychological method going on here. There is a subtle manipulation, one that I have never succumbed to, but I feel it. I don’t feel it in a desirous way, I feel it in a way similar to that feeling I get when I hear a good sales pitch. I subtly think yeah, that makes a kind of sense…I should buy that! but am then returned to reality where I don’t need a George Foreman grill.
(I’m waiting for some Christians to tell me that this feeling is God trying to reach out, but my hardened heart refuses to accept the free gift…you now the drill.)
And so God gave his only begotten Son and all that, right? We should feel thankful, shouldn’t we? Well, I have addressed Jesus’ ‘sacrifice‘ before, and I don’t think much of it. I know the whole “fully God, fully man” thing is supposed to make it possible for Jesus to suffer and make the crucifixion meaningful, but I don’t buy that either. I guess that makes me a heretic for not accepting the Chalcedonian Declaration. Whether Nestorian, Monophysite, or mythicist, I am certainly a heretic of some sort.
People, we are not sinners. There is no reason to believe a literal and historical Fall occurred. There is no reason to accept that a mythological Fall occurred, or that we are inherently sinful or broken in any spiritual way. In fact, there is no reason to accept the existence of a non-metaphorical ‘spirit’ or ‘soul’ in the first place.
Any imperfections in our being are due to the blind forces that formed us over millions of years of evolution–not some moral failing due to lack of obedience to some megalomaniacal bully of a god. We have the ability to educate ourselves, improve ourselves, and we don’t need a savior from any fairy-tale sins.
There is nothing to save us from.
Slavation Belongs to the Lord September 9, 2010Posted by shaunphilly in religion, atheism, polyamory, culture.
Tags: Christian theology, god, Jesus, John M. Frame, Salvation Belongs to the Lord, systematic theology
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OK, I need to take a break.
I really can’t take any more of this right now….
OK, context! Yes, dear reader, you need context to such a statement.
I am planning on taking a class at a local church about faith in everyday life. Part of the class involves reading a book, an introduction to systematic theology, by a very conservative theologian by the name of John M. Frame. It is called Salvation belongs to the Lord. and I have been reading it in preparation for the class.
Why am I taking this class? Well, partly because I am interested in learning about theology from an insider’s perspective. But I also want to sit in and hear discussions among Christians and hear what they have to say, so that I am better informed about what people think about such things.
I intend to say little, and I will not lie about my views but will not offer them, at least at first. If I am asked directly, I have decided not to hide who I am and why I am there, but otherwise I intend to listen a lot.
So, why am I so frustrated? Because this book proposes a literalitic and conservative view of the Bible that is so absurd, so constraining, and so repressive that I can only take it small bits at a time.
We must, argues Frame, submit our will, intellect, and emotions to God’s will. There is no ability to think for ourselves, especially if we are to question anything the Bible says.
We did not evolve. He spent about 3/4 of a page discussing evolution and merely dismissed it on the basis that it is not in accordance with Scripture.
I could go on. I won’t. In the coming weeks I will discuss this class, our discussions within, and perhaps sections of the book. for now, I just wanted to rant for a moment before I tore the book in half and ran screaming into the night.
Salvation Belongs to not reading this crap anymore…
Yet I will persevere.
Was the crucifixion of Jesus a sacrifice? June 17, 2009Posted by shaunphilly in religion, atheism, polyamory, culture.
Tags: crucifixion, Jesus, mythology, sacrifice
If Jesus was god, then the crucifixion was not a sacrifice.
If Jesus was not god, then it was a sacrifice, but it has no ultimate significance beyond being one of thousands of possibly inspiring stories of others who have died for various reasons, both noble and otherwise.
If Jesus never existed, then it’s just a story. If you can be inspired by that, then I can be inspired by Superman (and you can stop making fun of me for dressing like him!)
Now, the position of many Christians is that Jesus was wholly God, wholly human. This is nonsensical, and you know it. I am aware that this is one of the central tenants of the vast majority of Christian theologies, but it is absurd. Trying to justify this in your mind, reveling in the mystery of it, is indicative of something awry. It is to rationalize something absurd, mysterious, and impossible and call it a miracle.
But even if it were to be somehow true, then there are still some questions I have. Did Jesus know he was God (as well as human)?
If he did know he was god, then did he have all of the knowledge of god? If he did, then he knew that he would die on the cross–incarnated knowing so, in fact–and did nothing to stop it. He knew he couldn’t actually die, and that the crucifixion would be only symbolic, so how was it a sacrifice? This seems no different than me playing some online game and sacrificing my character in order to allow the rest of the team win the mission (not that I know anything about such thing…).
And if he didn’t have all the knowledge of god (or his divine powers for that matter!), then how could he be wholly god? Sure, he might have been human in body but having the spirit of god mixed in there, but without all the knowledge then there is something of god missing, right? Perhaps God is holographic, and even a part contains the whole? I’m confused….
Now, if Jesus was just a guy, granted one that was possibly sanctioned and chosen by the real god as a messenger, then it was a sacrifice. But how is it a sacrifice for us? How does a person dying two thousand years ago effect me in any other way than symbolically? And even as a symbol, how does it provide salvation? Further, salvation from what? (i’ll deal with that tomorrow).
And if Jesus was just god, and not human at all (as some early Gnostic sects thought), then his death was not a death at all. Then it was not a sacrifice at all. There is no passion to the narrative, just symbolism. Symbolism that god chose. But why choose that symbol? It seems to be a result of people who were used to the concept of sacrifice as a means to atone, like in the Old Testament laws about animal sacrifice and the smell of burnt offerings that are so pleasing to the lord. Man, Yahweh must love barbecues. But this neolithic idea should sound absurd to you.
I honestly do not see the significance of this supposedly historical event. I do not understand how God sacrificing either an innocent person or himself (to himself, to make up for a rule he made due to a Fall that he orchestrated, mind you) is significant to me at all, even if it were true. If I can see past this BS, I’m sure any real god could too. This sounds like iron age mythology to me, no different than the other myths and fairy tales of human history.
I'll leave you with this…