Sunday, 4 May 2008
For the purposes of this post, I'm going to assume that Jesus said the things attributed to him in the Bible, because I want to look at the message that the Bible gives us. Is it a good message or a bad one? Let's find out, shall we?
First, there are some good things in there. The golden rule is one (although it didn't originate with Jesus, still he gets points for saying it), don't brag, don't judge, love your neighbor, love your enemies, turn the other cheek, don't be a hypocrite. Jesus, of course, falls well short of many of these things and is rather hypocritical, and there's serious scholarship about some of these, like the idea of one's neighbors being fellow Jews and no one else. Regardless, let's just move forward.
Jesus also said some bad things, like the bits about how one should hate one's family, how he didn't come to bring peace but to bring a sword, his acceptance of the Noachian flood, etc. One would think that an all-loving, omni-benevolent god would only bring good words and not evil ones, which makes for a real problem for Xians. Also, the good should be considered with the bad. All too often Xians make the mistake of focusing solely on the good and disregarding the bad, but one needs to acknowledge both. This isn't the focus of this post, however.
The real focus is on a big problem I have with the teachings of Jesus in the Bible. Jesus sets up a system of absolutes. One is either good or bad, with nothing in between. Then, he sets up impossible standards. For instance, in the sermon on the mount, Jesus says that one should not be angry with others (without cause I believe). But, he takes it to extremes when he equates being angry with others to be tantamount to murder. This has gone too far as is all too often the case with theistic belief. Anger is a natural and normal human expression. We should strive to not be angry without cause, but it is going to happen from time to time. What we should focus on is finding positive outlets for that anger. Yet, according to Jesus, we are all guilty of murder. We are all guilty of sin and worthy of punishment. And, as if that weren't enough, Jesus is not content to allow us to simply die, but we must be punished. So, he preaches that we are all guilty and are all deserving of eternal torment in hell. This pernicious teaching is simply vile and anti-human.