July 12th, 2010 03:07 am (UTC)
Born and raised in a Christian home. I know all the answers, honey. It's quite a burden knowing everything there is to know, but I do my best to bear the weight of perfect knowledge. By the looks of the comments, it seems that there are quite a few other people in the world who also humbly know all the answers... and are quite concerned about for your soul. I will not repeat their threats of damnation. Rather, I'll tell you my thoughts on your conclusions, which sum up (mainly) my reflections on your article.
Thoughts on Conclusion #1 “no authors mention the phenomenal events that supposedly occurred at the time of Jesus' resurrection, and, there are no records of Jesus being crucified in the first place.”
Yep, it seems pretty unlikely that something so marvelous would go unrecorded. However, it is possible. If it was possible for so many scads of people to have been mistaken about the death of Christ, or for a man hung for hours on a cross and entombed for days to pop out later in perfect working order, it’s certainly possible for some historians to have missed what seemed an un-missable event. If you’re going to point out anything as improbable, start with the resurrection itself. But as we know, claiming the impossibility of such a thing has almost no effect on believers. Heavens, it’s a “miracle”, after all.
Thoughts on Conclusion #2, “Most the details of Jesus' death and rebirth are similar to the existing myths surrounding god-men in that era.”
Again, this is unconvincing, especially to a believer. The fact may speak as much to the myth’s truth as to its falsity. (That is, you could say that the gospels sprang up as natural successors to myths at the time. On the other hand, you could also say that due to general revelation, pagans were able to get some things “right” about the world, even though they were fatally flawed in other areas.)
Thoughts on Conclusion #3.
Ah, now we get to the good stuff. The crucifixion “doesn’t make sense” for what seems like three reasons according to the above statement.
First, “God judged and accepted people into Heaven before the time when Jesus existed so it was not necessary”. Watch it. Someone could just deny that God judged people before Jesus and dismiss your argument. Some do deny that those who lived before they could have access to knowledge of Jesus have access to heaven. But even if God did "judge" and "accept" before Jesus, this doesn’t have to mean that the crucifixion was unnecessary. If God is indeed, “an eternal God, beyond time,”, then before and after wouldn’t really pose as much of a difficulty for him. If it is necessary for a person to acknowledge Christ before his death, then it would seem a bit of a conundrum. There might, however, be reasons for the crucifixion other than just making sure that all the best ones confess with their tongues. I can only think of one such reason, which I will mention shortly.
Second, “it seems impossible that the crucifixion should somehow make God’s system of salvation better than it was”. Let us say that God is both perfectly merciful and perfectly just. These two abstracts seem in diametric opposition to me (isn’t mercy merely benevolent injustice?), but let’s say that this seeming contradiction exists within God. The crucifixion would not make God more just, nor would it make him more loving. But it might, perhaps, reconcile two contradictory wills in God—one to save humanity, and one to punish it for its wrongdoing. This seems especially plausible if you think of the transaction as one of debt, as many Christians do. For God to be just, he would need to be paid in full what he was owed: death. For God to be true to his merciful nature, he would not allow his loved creatures to die. Therefore, he receives full payment of death while simultaneously avoiding the death of anything he loves. He does this by demanding death from the only thing that cannot die: himself.
Third, “It did not aid God's understanding of Human suffering, as God is omniscient”. Seems damned logical.
I'd be interested to hear your thoughts, especially regarding the mercy/justice conflict. I like people of integrity, and, frankly, you really seem to buy the atheist thing.