As some of my readers know, I’m going to be attending a conference that — so I am told — is the end all and be all of Christian apologetics. Once I hear what these folks have to say, I’ll recognize that not only is my disbelief in any god incorrect, but my method of Jesus Worship for the first half of my life was wrong as well. I’m going to be treated to the definitive talk on the One Perfect and Good Way to Worship the God Jesus and Have a Happy Life and Go to Heaven.™
I already have some idea what the One True Path might be. My benefactor was kind enough to supply me with a bit of literature, and I’ve been diligent with my homework assignment. The thing is, I’m still a bit confused. Let me see if I can break it down for you.
- I’m not big on taking people at their word. I’ve discovered that many people have good reasons for lying to me, or at best not telling me the whole truth. So I have to go into this looking for more than one person’s word over another. I’d be a fool not to, right?
- It’s occurred to me that if humans are anything like gods, I shouldn’t take gods at their word either. But that causes some real problems. I’ve never heard from a god, so when a person tells me about a god, I have two levels of trust to get through. The god had to tell them the truth, and they have to tell me the truth. So that’s like… exponentially untrustworthy.
- Which would be ok, except that if I can’t trust people, and have no reason to believe I should trust gods, I have to admit that gods might have lied to other people. Stay with me on this one… What if there are lots of gods? What if the god Jesus, the god Satan, the god Allah, the god Holy Spirit, and the god Vishnu are all duking it out in some ethereal plane, and each one of them is limited in his (or her) power by the power of the other gods? What if the reason so many Middle Easterners are Muslim is that the god Jesus isn’t powerful enough to exert his influence over the entire world at the same time. Maybe that part of the world is Allah country. I’m thinking… if I were a god, and I knew there were other competing gods, I might very well lie and say I was the only one, and threaten to burn people in hell if they questioned me. Especially if I had just enough power to keep the other gods from talking to my people directly…
Actually, let me stop on that one for a minute. It kind of makes sense, doesn’t it? Christianity only appeared around two thousand years ago, and if I read my history correctly, it wasn’t exactly a nice split between early Christians and Jews. Before that, there was Zoroaster and Ahura Mazda and lots of other gods.
Now, it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me that the god Jesus, all powerful and creator of the entire universe who can do absolutely anything and loves all of us… (inhale)… didn’t bother to show himself to anyone except Paul and twelve wandering dudes who apparently didn’t even want to take a woman with them. Mary Magdalene seemed willing… I’m just saying…
I think it makes more sense that the god Jesus was an upstart, and managed to convince a few dudes that he was actually related to the god of the Jews, Yahweh. He got the Roman Empire behind him, and BLAMMO! Suddenly he’s the new kid on the block with half of Europe at his disposal, complete with all the technological advances — especially weapons.
That would explain why people in the rest of the world didn’t hear about the god Jesus for hundreds or even thousands of years after the fact. Jesus wasn’t powerful enough to exert his influence there yet.
I read a book a few years ago called Small Gods. The idea is that gods gain power when they have more followers. No followers, no power. If memory serves, the god in this book had been reduced to tromping around as a lowly turtle until one person was able to hear his voice.
What if it was that way with Jesus? What if all this bluster over heaven and hell is Jesus lying to try to get more followers to get more power?
What if he’s a real asshole, and his plan is to get everyone on earth to believe in him so that he can get enough power to create a wormhole and make it over to the next star system to convince the intelligent life there to believe in him as well? What if he totally abandons earth after he’s had his way with us?
Ugh. It’s kind of far-fetched, right? Too unbelievable to be true?
Or is it? It occurs to me that Paul probably had people saying the same thing to him when he started preaching about this dude Jesus that appeared to him in a vision while he was just trying to get down the road a bit. I wonder… when Muhammed penned the pages of the Quran, how many people thought it was a bit far-fetched?
Or what about Joseph Smith? Or L. Ron Hubbard? Far-fetched, right?
No, I don’t think it’s far-fetched at all. It’s the perfect explanation for why everyone claims that their god is the correct one, and why they are all absolutely certain that they have magical powers the other followers don’t.
Now… I’ll admit that I’m still confused by the One True Christian thing. I did a little research and found out that if we separate things into denominations, splinter groups, cults, and other variants of Christianity, beginning with the divisions Paul mentions in his letters to various churches, we reach a disturbing conclusion. Either the god Jesus is lenient and lets people worship any way they want so long as they say his name properly, or the god Jesus has punished millions and millions more people for improper worship than he has rewarded for proper worship.
Maybe that’s ok, though. Maybe the god Jesus doesn’t have enough power to punish everyone, and that’s why you don’t see a lot of Buddhists fretting over going to hell. Maybe Jesus only has the power from whatever the one true branch of proper Jesus worship is. If that’s the case, then I don’t think he could possibly be very powerful. And if I’m not worshiping him improperly, I don’t see why he’d bother me. Especially since I’m not worshiping any other deities, either. I ought to be a non-issue for him.
I seem to have gotten a bit off track. Anyway, I’m really interested to learn what the One True Christian worship is at this conference. Hopefully it will be less confusing than all of this.