This article explains that believing in Jesus Christ is very different from believing that Jesus Christ was historical. Christianity’s claim of divine revelation is a claim of intervention into history; therefore it is not really a place for faith. History really happened, one way, and there is evidence to discover how it really went down. Christians’ belief in a fictional history is the weakest part of their creed, and always has been. It creates much unnecessary conflict between them and anyone interested in finding the truth.
“The Church says that the Earth is flat, but I know that it is round. For I have seen the shadow of the earth on the moon and I have more faith in the Shadow than in the Church.”
In a recent interview on BBC news, Professor Richard Dawkins, British scientist and author of the controversial book, The God Delusion, answered a caller’s question concerning the fallibility of logic in the face of a transcendent deity:
Q: “Dawkins has lucidly demonstrated the logical inconsistencies of the existence of a deity. The question I’d like to ask is, why would an omnipotent deity be limited by the man-made invention of logic.”
A: “Well, if he’s suggesting that we can’t use logic, in order to bring our minds to bear upon the question of the existence of god, I find that a most incredibly cop-out. It means, in a sense, anything goes. That way, madness lies – because you could use that argument to demonstrate the existence of fairies, the flying spaghetti monster, the orbiting tea pot, a million things, golden unicorns – there’s no limit to the number of things you could justify once you abandon logic.”
The question put before Dawkins is a common objection of the limitations of reason. The author of the website, Anti-Itch Meditation, says it this way:
“If God is truly above us, I would expect Him to do things I can’t understand and I would expect Him to do things I can’t do. But that doesn’t mean we don’t have to have an answer ready for every question of our faith.”
I like this statement especially because it recognizes the need for dialogue and for developing answers to defend Christian faith. And I agree in principle: Yes, of course, I would expect God (who by definition, is infinite) to do things that I can’t understand. This is the eternal Mystery of God: He is transcendent, I am limited. There will most probably always be things about him that while I can comprehend in theory, I’ll never really be able to wrap my brain around and understand completely. But Mystery is very different from Paradox, and in the search for the historical Jesus, the distinction between these two concepts is fundamental.
Mystery is, I can’t understand that the universe is infinite. My brain can’t grasp infinity. I know it, I have faith that it is true based on the evidence, but I can’t really understand it.
Paradox is, the Bible says the world was created 6,000 years ago, the world has believed it for 1,000 years, I’m Charles Darwin and research has just convinced me of Evolution. Do I need to continue believing what the Bible says, despite the evidence? Will God punish me if I don’t? In order to distinguish between the Jesus of History and the Jesus of Myth, we need to begin from the assumption that there is no such thing as a natural paradox.
A paradox is a logical argument or set of apparent truths which, when taken together, creates an absurd result. One of the oldest is in Zeno’s Paradox of the Tortoise and Achilles. The tortoise proves that he will beat Achilles, and the race is conceded before it even begins, even though in actuality, Achilles could have easily beaten the turtle.
There are also linguistic paradoxes like this one:
The following sentence is true.
The following sentence is true.
The following sentence is true.
The first sentence in this list is false.
In some spiritual traditions, specifically, Zen Buddhism, paradox is a necessary tool to shut down the rational mind. Transcendental reality cannot be grasped by the human brain, only experienced through some non-rational part of us. Holy Blasphemy agrees with this use of paradox, and heavily endorses a non-rational approach to universal Truth, with the understanding that this universal Truth cannot have anything said about it through language. It cannot be communicated, and so, every religious transmission of spiritual knowledge is automatically suspect, at least in principle.
In the search for the historical Jesus, we need to recognize that paradox is a result of problematic thought processes. A paradox is not real (inherent to the natural world), because, “nature abhors paradox.” Paradox is an accident that happens when things that we think to be true contradict one another, and it is always a sign that we need to rethink our assumptions. If you were on a hiking trip and came up against a giant rock, what would you do? Sit down and try to figure out how to remove it, or go around? There are many paradoxes that arise in conjunction with the idea of the historical Jesus. The mythical Jesus is the only way to resolve these paradoxes.
For example, Jesus has a lot in common with Pagan saviors, whose story of life, death and redemption are based on constellation mythology and stories about the sun. This means that Jesus has a lot in common earlier, mythological figures and also that the gospels stories reflect astrological events that can still be seen today. If Jesus was a historical person, he would have had to plan his entire life very carefully in order to mirror all of these mutual circumstances. And, although some groups recognized the similarities and were very clear that, unlike the other mythologies, Jesus alone was a real, physical person, other communities simultaneously continued to worship him as a myth. As the easiest way around the confusion, the path around the rock, we could accept that these details seem to imply that Jesus was a mythological character.
The problem in “proving” Jesus didn’t exist lies in the fact that people who believe in the historical Jesus also believe that natural paradoxes, like miracles, are possible. I have seen Christians absorb all of these details about Christian history and conclude that it only shows how God already had the plan of salvation in mind before he created the universe. He knew about the fall before He made the garden. He’d already decided the punishment, and already planned the redemption, and then, he made the stars and the moon and the sun, all of which needed to be so perfectly exact as to sustain life on earth, he made all of this, copying the events from the life and times of Jesus Christ, so that people could learn about Jesus by looking at the heavens. Once relinquishing some basic protests from common sense, in favor of the omnipotent, transcendent majesty of God, this viewpoint creates its own inner consistency and is very difficult to refute.
However, commonly overlooked, is the fact that logical consistency is an absolute necessity for Christian faith. If God is completely other, completely unknowable, completely transcendental, then none of us can say anything about him; it is only through revelation that Christians maintain they have received the “keys to the kingdom”. Knowledge of the Truth about God does not come through faith in Mystery, as many Christians believe, but through His intervention in history, His authorship of the Bible and His formation of the Church. They have faith that these events have taken place, as transcribed, and can be proved historically; and yet it is exactly the traditional view of Christian history, as we shall explore in this investigation, that is so easily refuted. This is a big, big Paradox, a circular dilemma: Christians can only know about God through revelation, and so revelation must have really happened, objectively and historically, for their faith to be justified, and yet this revelation cannot, in itself, be maintained without falling back on the support of faith. Christian faith is not just a suspension of reason, as is belief in fairies or golden unicorns, which cannot be evaluated or undermined, but a faith in a history which may never have happened.
The great amount of frustration between people who have faith, and those who do not, is a language barrier. It is no use for me to explain my beliefs when my arguments are based on the assumption that logic can be used as a compass, when in fact my listeners believe the only compass to be God. However, the paradox of faith brings up questions that even Christians cannot ignore. For example, is it really true that, if there is an omnipotent God, He can do or be anything He wants? Can God be mean, selfish, racist and contradictory? Can he purposely hide the truth and wickedly tempt people away from it by planting false evidence? I argue that, if He can, then He does not live up to our conception of Him, and is not worthy of our reverence. I denounce this God. I reject him, as a fraud and phony. Like a powerful tyrant, He needs to be pulled from his throne.
I hope most people will agree that, if God exists, then he is Good; and therefore these qualities cannot be assigned to him. But why would a good God, if he wanted us to find Jesus, make him so similar to so many other mythological saviors? Why tempt us into error, by giving us so many different paths to follow? The obvious answer is so that we may develop faith, but what good is faith? I have faith that God is good. That is easy for me. And yet, I’m asked to believe that this good God specifically challenges those who like to investigate, see patterns, and ask questions. Even if they are searching for Him, he hides and plants evidence to lead them astray, and then he punishes them for not accepting on faith what they could not understand through reason. Why?
Another important question is, why did Jesus come down to one corner of the world? Why are 80% of Christians living in the Americas or Europe? Is God punishing the children of Asia, who didn’t choose the social heritage they were born into? He seems to seek out the innocent, falsely accuse them through an impossible scheme of redemption, and then say, “Sorry, too bad for you, you weren’t born into a nice Christian home.” Does God not recognize these problems? Am I then, smarter than God? Does he not care? Am I then, more loving? Has he no power to improve things in his own creation? The belief in a good God and the belief in a historical Jesus create a very large paradox. I have enough faith in God to believe with certainty that he is much more equipped to create a perfect universe than I am, and if, in my limited intelligence, I can find paradoxes in his work, I have faith enough not to exempt or remove God from the consequences of his creation by claiming, “it’s a mystery,” but to instead adapt my own beliefs to encompass all parts of God’s work without contradiction. It is my belief in a good God which causes me to refuse the historical Jesus and accept the mythical Jesus. Perhaps someone, with more faith than myself, can maintain that even a good, just, infallible God can make mistakes sometimes.
The articles in this section are part of a 50,000 word treatise on the historical Jesus and Christ Myth Theory, dealing with Christian history, the mystical significance of Christian symbols, and the mistaken belief that Jesus Christ was a historical person. You can download the entire collection for free as a PDF file ebook by clicking here!