If you want to believe the world was created 6,000 years ago, and some guy crammed two each of five million species onto a boat less than 500 feet long for forty days, and another guy was revived after being dead for three days, after his blood pooled and separated, after rigor mortis came and went, after his brain was deprived of oxygen for 72 hours … go for it. I don’t have the energy to refute premodern cosmologies and annoyingly persistent tribal mythologies.
But at least consider that four hundred years ago, the earth was flat and located at the center of the universe, and the delusional jerk who touted something different, something threatening, was convicted of heresy.
If you want to believe God is all good and simultaneously all-powerful, yet also that bad things happen…enjoy. I’m not sure how to illuminate your and your holy book’s self-contradictions.
But if you want to think a little brown guy named Yeshua, as reported in your book, was onto something valuable – maybe even seriously earth-shaping truths…and you want to follow his teachings…that intrigues me.
For in a world where there are no epistemologically sound indicators of the nature of God, all I care about are results: things I can see. And Jesus produced results. But he was a bit of a delusional jerk too, and certainly threatening and heretical, and he got what was coming to him, as did Galileo after him, for similar reasons.
I cannot imagine what it would be like to be Jewish back then, perpetually waiting for the Messiah to come fix everything.
I also cannot imagine being contemporary Christian, believing that the Messiah has finished at least most of his work, and that everything that matters is taken care of. When I look at the world, I see that most everything I care about is not taken care of.
“Either make the tree good, and its fruit good; or make the tree bad, and its fruit bad; for the tree is known by its fruit.” Clearly, Jesus cared about results. But I’m not sure he believed everything was tidy when he checked out either. Indeed, he commanded his followers to pick up where he left off. And some say that the (passivity-breeding, remarkably pre-messianic) notion that he will return to fix everything again is up for interpretation.
Like Jesus, I expect his followers to be concerned with results. Yet among Christians, and in areas of the country strongly influenced by Christians, we see the highest rates of divorce, infidelity, murder, STDs, teen pregnancy, single parent homes, infant mortality, and obesity. We see the poorest health care systems, least high school graduation, strongest socioeconomic stratification, and legislated bigotry, much of which Christians legitimize with scripture.
I don’t blame social maladies on Christianity, but suggest that contemporary Christians are not concerned with the results Jesus prioritized. And I don’t need to champion my personal socialist Jesus for that to be apparent.
I am also not set against believing in some God. If I choose to, it will not be because I think God exists, but because such belief yields results that matter.
But until Christians bear fruit, I feel compelled to cast my lot with the jerks. I take up arms with heretical jackasses who think everything is not alright. I fight for the powerless, even at the expense of those in power. I want to make comfortable people squirm, and comfort those who want to change the world.
And behold. Sometimes the world really does change shape.