I understand where fundamentalists are coming from – really I do. Hypothetically, I would still choose to follow Jesus even if He turned out to be a ‘myth’. To me, Jesus is more real than ‘reality’, for which I have a fundamental distrust.
I think the problem of Biblical literalists is that they see the Bible, rather than Jesus, as the Word of God. This, in my opinion, is a form of idolatry which is not even Biblically supported. The Bible is ‘inspired’ but not dictated by God. Mere mortals sometimes get things wrong – even with the best of intentions.
The Bible is authoritative, certainly. But inerrant, certainly not. Even the different versions of the Bible often contradict each other. Which one then would be the ‘true’ Word?
I am definitely not a Biblical literalist. Even if the Old Testament was originally dictated by God, as some believe, chances are practically nil that His original words would have survived completely unaltered to this day. The original manuscripts are unfortunately long lost. And consider those who were the traditional keepers, transcribers and interpreters of the Law: the very people who Jesus called “vipers”, “hypocrites” and “sons of Satan”. Are we to trust that, over hundreds of years, these very same people never *once* seized the opportunity to do a little creative editing in support of their own agendas? Of course not. And what of transcription errors? Surely, quite a few of those made it into the text over the years. If the devil is an actual person, as the Bible says, surely he would have been at tirelessly at work all this time to corrupt the Word of God.
But are we to toss the whole thing out? Certainly not. That’s where the love of Christ comes in. I am convinced that to get close to the original message that God was trying to convey, we must always try to read the Bible through the filter of pure Christian love. It is worth considering that the parts that seem irreconcilably incongruous or contradictory to the love of Christ might actually be the words of *men* rather than God.
For those who truly believe, spiritual matters are the always the most important. For those who don’t, spiritual matters are always the most trivial. Most of us usually fall somewhere in between.
Why do otherwise rational people often cling to irrational ideas despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary? The simple truth is that belief is usually more visceral than intellectual. People ultimately believe that which most comfortably fits within their overall belief system. Despite strong evidence and seemingly irrefutable facts, people will cling to fallacious ideas because, like a piece of a jigsaw puzzle, the old idea fills the ‘hole’ in their psyche perfectly. Rather than directly try to force a new mismatched piece into the hole by the brute force of facts and evidence, one should first try to ‘reshape’ the hole so that the new idea fits naturally. This means to determine why an erroneous idea fits so well into a person’s mindset and attempt to adjust the adjacent ideas so that fit is no longer so comfortable. Only then will a person be receptive to the new idea which promises to fit better.
I am certainly no scientist but if I understand Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle and the concept of Schrödinger’s cat properly, then electrons, at least, are “fuzzy”. What we call the electron is actually the densest “core”. The electron is actually is the size of the universe but it’s density is relative to the probability that its core would be at a particular point. All electrons overlap to some degree but their cores cannot occupy the same space and time.
This would explain a lot for me – gravity for instance. If electrons overlap they must absorb some of other matter’s energy through “friction” thereby causing them to be weakly attracted to one another. And I for one, have still not completely given up on the whole Aether theory that scientists were fond of during the turn of the last century. Perhaps light propagates through fuzzy particles rather than a vacuum. True vacuums (nothingness) don’t really exist, even in space.
Again, not a scientist – I’m probably way off the mark in a hundred different ways.
The most I can truly know is that I exist. I can not know with absolute certainty that anything or anyone else exists. If nothing else exists then I must be the de facto Supreme Being of my own universe. In other words, a Supreme Being exists, even if it is just me.
There is no plural of “I”. “We” is not a multiple of “me”. All experience necessarily comes via self. A person, no matter how many others there may be, is the center of his own universe. Each person is his own Supreme Being. This is not out of pride or vanity but a unavoidable quality of self. He must take it completely on faith that other people and other things exist. Sensations are evidence but not proof.
The term “God” comes with many connotations. In my argument I use “Supreme Being” because it’s meaning is exactly what it suggests – a being that is supreme. However, if I consider the many other connotations of “God” such as being omnipresent, omnipotent and omniscient it is interesting to note that the “Supreme Being” in my description may share these attributes as well. If there is in fact only me, I am omniscient because I possess all knowledge. I am omnipresent because my “here” is the only place to be. I am omnipotent because all power resides within me.
I have faith that other people and other things exist, including and especially God with all of His wonderful connotations. But I can know this: if I am wrong, then at the very least God exists if only within me.
If God is exactly the same everywhere, He would be impossible to detect scientifically. If God was not exactly the same everywhere, He would not be the God of my understanding. Scientific “proofs” of God should therefore be of no interest to me, right?
This is totally subjective on my part. Here, I’m thinking God’s physical essence like the proverbial “Aether” that Michelson and Morley were trying to find at around the turn of the last century. Only more elusive than that as everything, not just light, propagates through it. If the universe is basically just a hologram, as it now seems to be, the “holographic plates” would be undetectable other than by inference as they would be made of a “real” material totally alien to our “unreal” physicality. In other words, judging our unreal physical existence as real, we would have no tools by which to measure something that is actually physically real. We would call it infinite, eternal, transcendent etc. and just confine it to the realm of mathematical illusion.
If Jesus is not God then who was He? Some people condescendingly say that He was great teacher. The problem with this is that the most important thing He taught was that He was in fact God. If this is incorrect, then He couldn’t have been a great teacher. In fact, if Jesus is not God, He must have been 1) a liar, 2) a madman, 3) a fool or 4) terribly misquoted.
First of all, Jesus clearly believed the things he taught or he certainly would not have suffered and died for them. This eliminates “liar”. Secondly, several modern psychiatrists have analyzed everything that is known about Jesus and have unanimously determined that He was not insane. This eliminates “madman”. Next, from all of His other teachings, it is obvious that Jesus was unprecedentedly wise. This eliminates “fool”. Finally, Jesus and all his apostles (save one) were horribly executed for believing Jesus was God without a single recantation among them. This leaves no reasonable doubt that Jesus was quoted correctly in this regard. This eliminates “misquoted”. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle said that “Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.” So what do we have left? Only the option, “Jesus is God” remains. This certainly sounds improbable at first blush but once you consider all the extraordinary corroborating evidence, it is by far the most logical choice.
Ask yourself these things: Can an all-powerful God not become a man and have a fully human experience? Would an empathetic and loving God not want to experience His creation first-hand? If this God has had the power and desire to become a man, wouldn’t someone like Jesus fit the bill, perfectly? If so, then why couldn’t Jesus be God?
Mystery and wonder are bound up in the simple statement, “I am”. Examples range from Descartes’ famous statement, “I think therefore I am” to God’s cryptic statement to Moses “I am, that I am“. The latter is so profound that it is used as the name of God throughout many Bible translations. YHWH, Yahweh and Jehovah all mean simply, “I am“. It is the only name that God ever reveals. “God” is merely a title, just as is “Lord” or “King”. So what does “I am” mean? Or more specifically, what does “I” mean?
I believe it is most telling that self is often called a “sense of self”. Our self is intrinsically bound to that which we perceive, often through our feelings or senses. In fact, there can be no self without perception or awareness. Self, I believe is the universe at it’s perceptual center. For finite beings such as ourselves, our self-awareness begins most intensely internally then to our physical body and then somewhat abstractly to our physical universe. Within our physical universe we have concentric “bodies” which we feel as part of our self to perhaps lessening degrees: friends and family, community, geo-political groups, humanity, planet ecology, the universe as a whole and lastly for some, God.
As Christians and people of Faith, we try to invert this diminishing sense of self to put God at the center and our internal self on the outer periphery. But regardless, when we do anything we are never completely selfless. Our reasons are always selfish in some real or abstract sense. Even divinely selfish reasons are selfish nevertheless.
On the other hand, if God is infinite He has no physical center. Everything is internal. Therefore God’s self is homogeneously everywhere and everyone. God cares for you as much as He does anyone else. This is not His choice but His nature.
You would be very hard-pressed to find a respectable historian who believes that Jesus did not exist. There is arguably more good evidence that Jesus existed than did Alexander the Great. Whether or not he did all the things he is reported to have done is perhaps another matter. The issue of Jesus’ existence, however, is so well established historically, that it is almost never seriously disputed.