Thursday, February 23, 2006

My Opposite Day Entry: Why Christianity is True

Okay, I guess I'll argue for Christianity. (For an explanation of Opposite Day, see my previous post.)

First, there seems to be no plausible explanation for true free will without the supernatural. Although it's therefore tempting to argue that there is no free will, it's obvious from everyday experience that there is. (Studies which purport to show that our decisions are made before we consciously make them only demonstrate an interesting point about how our consciousness works, not about whether we are ultimately free to make decisions. The experiments prove nothing about whatever began the build-up to the decision.)

If there is a supernatural being behind every human, it stands to reason that there is an even greater supernatural being of which the smaller beings are a part, or are split off of somehow. This is exactly what Christianity teaches. What is Christ if not part of the Greater Spirit (God) combined with a human one? In fact, the very notion of the Trinity reflects the metaphysics which makes most sense based on simple observation. God, or the Spirit, is united but at the same time has different manifestations. God is God the Father, the Creator, while at the same time the Son, the human. There is also the pervasive Holy Spirit which fills all of Creation.

It's clear that the Old Testament began with a people who were prepared only for a tribal Deity, not the real Monotheism of later Christianity. In the Old testament, God acts like a polytheistic God - angry, jealous, loving, vengeful... in other words, human, but bigger. He is a nations's God, rather than the only God. He says, "worship no other Gods before me," not "I am the only God who exists."

Judaism paved the way for Christ's message. Jesus was himself both God and Jew, and so formed a new covenant, this time not with one nation, but with anyone willing to accept Him. At this point, the people had been weaned off of primitive, pagan-like sacrifices and ritual laws of kashrut and the like were no longer necessary. Christ showed people how to interact directly with God without needing such primitive intermediaries.

Some claim that Jesus did not exist. This is almost certainly untrue. He is a recent enough figure and he shows up not just in the four gospels, but in extra-Biblical documents like Josephus and the Talmud. Some point out that the gospels contradict each other in places, for example with the details in the story of His resurrection. I agree that there are contradictions, but that this is to be expected when hearing a story from four different sources. I don't believe that the NT (or the OT) were dictated from God, but it's clear they were inspired from the comfort they give to millions.

The OT paved the way for Jesus Christ. There are many prophets before Jesus, but the OT also speaks of the Messiah. If the Old Testament has any truth to it, there's no way the Second Temple could have been destroyed with no Messiah coming for over two thousand years. Even when the nation of Israel was being punished, it was only for four hundred years! It's clear from the OT that the Messiah would be coming sooner rather than later.

Arguments against the Old Testament from science are irrelevant. The Old Testament was never supposed to be a literal history of the Universe. It was an introduction to God for a people who did not yet know Him. He spoke in their language, according to what they could accept at that time. Later, in Jesus's time, he updated the teachings to include the rest of humanity.

Did evolution happen? Of course it did. Is the universe billions of years old and unimaginably vast? Of course. These things only prove God's existence all the more so! Evolution is far too intricate to lead to a being as astounding as the human without being guided somehow. A 4-billion year old Earth with a long, winding path towards the human reveals an incomprehensibly powerful God.

And what of Christ's teachings? Can anyone deny that his words carry immense wisdom?
Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children
of God... Resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also... I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despite-fully use you, and persecute you; --Matthew 5
If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to cast a stone at her. --John 8:7
Do not judge, lest you too be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. --Matthew 7:1-2


Were not these teachings shown to be wise by Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr.? Who among modern figures are more revered than those two who so closely followed Jesus's teachings.

Oh, you will say, so much harm has been done in Jesus's name. This is true, I agree, but those so-called followers of Christ aren't doing any following. Christ predicted such hypocrisy and gave us the only test we need for discovering who the real Christians are. He said, "By their fruits you shall know them." In other words, if one praises Jesus but steals from the poor, he's not a Christian. If one praises Jesus but agitates for war, he's not a Christian. If one praises Jesus but bilks the faithful out of hundreds of thousands of dollars, he's not a Christian.

Mankind is flawed, and Jesus came to rescue us from ourselves. His sacrifice mirrors the primitive use of the (literal) scapegoat in the old testament, but reinvents it for a more enlightened humanity. Even to the gravest suffering, stand up for what's right, is his message. In the OT, the faithful kill the scapegoat. In the NT, the most faithful one IS the scapegoat. Don't strike, but turn the other cheek. When we all follow Jesus, there will be no war.

And what of our sins? What does it mean to say Jesus died to save us? By his death he teaches that living isn't the most important thing, how you live is. He modeled for us even as he was dying the perfect behavior. "Forgive them Father," he says, referring to his murderers, "they know not what they do." Christ died teaches us the alternative to hatred.

25 comments:

asher said...

JA,

Pretty good. Can you do the same routine for Buddism?

david said...

Holy crap (pardon the expression), you're good.

Foilwoman said...

Well, since it's opposite day, I'll let some theist step in and argue the reverse (I don't think anyone can top your effort, but I think you could break down those positions you set forward in about five seconds with your hands immobilized).

Jewish Atheist said...

Theists, don't feel you have to be a Christian to respond. You can just argue against the God part.

Jewish Atheist said...

asher:

Buddhism's not opposite enough. Too easy to be an atheistic Buddhist.

david:

Thanks. :) I like your entry, too.

Moshe said...

Thanks to you, I am now willing to accept Jesus as my saviour. I hope you are proud of yourself.

Know any good churches I can join?

Jewish Atheist said...

moshe: Thanks to you, I am now willing to accept Jesus as my saviour. I hope you are proud of yourself.

Just sharing the Word.

Stephen (aka Q) said...

This is arguably the most interesting and daring thing I've seen anybody do on a blog. I'm not sure what's supposed to result from the exercise, but bravo anyway!

In the spirit of opposite day, here's why I am an atheist.

Christianity is false and science is true because science works and Christianity doesn't. Think of the occasional fanatic who takes his or her diabetic child off insulin and prays for God to cure them. The outcome is always the same: insulin works, prayer fails.

Science isn't necessarily atheistic, insofar as theists can be skilled scientists. But they should face facts! Science has made the world a far, far better place precisely by eliminating God as a variable. If people had assumed that HIV/AIDS comes from God as a punishment of homosexuals and drug users, they would never have developed the medications that are keeping tens of thousands of victims alive.

So that's the ticket, mate. Forget about God — he'll only cloud your thinking and get in the way of real progress. Science has benefitted millions of people in many concrete ways. That's the way to go.

Sadie Lou said...

Some claim that Jesus did not exist. This is almost certainly untrue. He is a recent enough figure and he shows up not just in the four gospels, but in extra-Biblical documents like Josephus and the Talmud.

That's the one thing that should freak atheists out because if you know for sure Jesus existed and he isn't some made up "teacher man" then one has to answer the age old Liar? Or Lunatic? Questions.
Is Jesus a liar?
Is Jesus a lunatic?

Something happened to Jesus' disciples after the ressurection. They went from following Christ to dying for the faith.
I'm not so sure they would be so willing to be pulled apart by horses, cruxified upside down or left to rot in prison for a lie. I honestly don't think any of those men would have died that way for Christ while he was still alive. Peter denied he even knew Christ THREE times. It was AFTER Christ died that things changed for the disciples, one has to wonder why.

I'm going to takle your challenge on debating "the other side" for a blog post tomorrow.

MTR said...

"Did evolution happen? Of course it did."

How scientific. Unfortunately, this is how we're expected to buy it--That's it! That's the way! If you question in you're fundie zealot. Seems to be that the science community, on this matter, is decidedly unscientific.

http://fromthemorning.blogspot.com

r10b said...

I'd like to join Sadico and present my own bizarro reply tomorrow. Such a wonderful and well executed experiment deserves some preparation, and even then I doubt if I can out-opposite our illustrious host.

In the meantime I'd just like to echo Q's praise and congratulate JA for his very fine attempt.

The Atheologist said...

A very interesting idea and as "q" said a very daring thing to do. I didn't read this post until tonight, (Friday), but coincidentally this morning I placed a post on my blog about Atheist-Fundies. Does that qualify as an opposite day entry? Maybe I'm stretching a bit.

Sadie Lou said...

I'm done with my challenge.

amba said...

it stands to reason that there is an even greater supernatural being of which the smaller beings are a part, or are split off of somehow. This is exactly what Christianity teaches.

Huh? Sounds like Hinduism to me.

Judaism paved the way for Christ's message. Jesus was himself both God and Jew, and so formed a new covenant, this time not with one nation, but with anyone willing to accept Him. At this point, the people had been weaned off of primitive, pagan-like sacrifices and ritual laws of kashrut and the like were no longer necessary. Christ showed people how to interact directly with God without needing such primitive intermediaries.

That's more like it! Keep it up and you're going to convert me where real Christians couldn't!

Mankind is flawed, and Jesus came to rescue us from ourselves. His sacrifice mirrors the primitive use of the (literal) scapegoat in the old testament, but reinvents it for a more enlightened humanity. Even to the gravest suffering, stand up for what's right, is his message. In the OT, the faithful kill the scapegoat. In the NT, the most faithful one IS the scapegoat. Don't strike, but turn the other cheek. When we all follow Jesus, there will be no war.

And what of our sins? What does it mean to say Jesus died to save us? By his death he teaches that living isn't the most important thing, how you live is. He modeled for us even as he was dying the perfect behavior. "Forgive them Father," he says, referring to his murderers, "they know not what they do." Christ died teaches us the alternative to hatred.


You're proving my point that atheists are much better theologians than believers are.

OoBrOwNEyEz said...

Your logic is flawed.

The Jewish Freak said...

Very interesting idea for a post. Of course you could disprove all of your own points, but it was fun to read this exercise.

r10b said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
r10b said...

I believe humans to express the observed order of nature created religion. God is a label for an idea. The understanding of those ideas varies among cultures (and over time) but the purpose is to codify a set of rules that will aid in survival of that culture. The Christian system of belief presented some valuable ideas especially regarding the care of the poor and oppressed. Unfortunately those who considered themselves oppressed and powerless originated or subsequently co-opted those ideas to serve their own ends. What is called a faith is merely a social tool modified to make god a puppet on a string. In the end they only serve themselves with their imagined god. I serve myself without the pretense of religion serving to cover my motives.

vantilope said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
vantilope said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
kasamba said...

Please can I see the deleted posts??
I bet they were good.

Jewish Atheist said...

Just to clarify, I didn't delete them. The commenters did.

Sadie Lou said...

I wrote my follow up post, JA.

Juggling Mother said...

My follow up post is up now too:-)

http://jugglingmother.blogspot.com

SoarIntoSky said...

Hey! Do you regularly use online social media websites?