Disagreement over the divinity of Jesus
Western civilization is hamstrung by an ancient fable – one which is certainly not true and appears more preposterous the more closely it is examined. In any fair examination, one would need to contrast the alleged incidents with known human behavior modes and compare the alleged events to human nature and well-understood laws of physics, as well as to logic and reason. We can step back a little and examine the big picture in an attempt to strip away the facade of superstition, urban legend, hearsay, and pure bullshit. Given the late date – long after the alleged incidents - at which the alleged events were committed to paper, AND given that it was not recorded by actual witnesses, AND given the propensity for tales to get better and more detailed with every telling, AND given the apparent lack of adherence to any recognizable standards for the review and validation of evidence, AND given the depths of ignorance and superstition in which the world was generally steeped on that day, I think it is fair to assume that we do not have a true and accurate account – and certainly not a factual account – of events depicted in the bible. With a clear eye and a little perspective, it appears that any convergence with fact is purely coincidental.
To gain a more realistic picture of the period covered in the bible, we can, for the sake of argument, start with the assumption that the players were living, breathing human beings, driven by the same survival requirements as current humans as well as the same basic social pressures which have been common to humans since we started living in groups. We can also make certain reasonable assumptions about the existence of magic and the practice of flim-flam, both forms of fakery still in common use today. Armed with this knowledge, we can make certain rational assumptions about characters claiming to operate under special rules and “supernatural” forces. In this age we know them all to be hucksters, charlatans, and televangelists, and all – ALL of them - to be 100% full of shit and ill purpose. Follow the money.
Bearing all that in mind, we can start to look at the biblical fables
in a more realistic light. We come up with the following:
Around 2000 years ago, in the Middle East, there may have been a traveling preacher, who we currently refer to as “Jesus”. He was one of thousands of assorted preachers, seers, shamans, and mystics roaming that part of the world seeking a following and a career. He, like the others, was a product of his environment. Education was generally unavailable. What education was available was of very low standard compared to what is available today. The general population was highly illiterate, highly superstitious, and highly gullible.
The first aspect of his alleged deism that needs to be brought back to reality are the highly suspect circumstances surrounding his birth. Much has been made of the miraculous virgin birth. As is increasingly widely held among biblical scholars, “virgin” is a mistranslation – one of xianity’s founding principles is a mistake from the git-go. Also, considering that his mother was married to his father, it is even more unlikely that the mother was a virgin. If, however, the mother found herself inexplicably pregnant under circumstances where the father would have reason to doubt his own contribution to the situation, then blaming it on some supernatural intervention might have worked, thereby proving my point about rampant gullibility. If we saw it happen today we would know that the mother was caught screwing around. But despite the ironic humor of that scenario, it is far more likely that the two married parents were completely responsible for the normal birth of a human child. Certainly no reasonable person would give much credence to supernatural claims. We know better now.
Son of God ? Not bloody likely.
Education and literacy, in that day and in that realm, were reserved for the privileged. Jesus was apparently illiterate and uneducated; there is no mention in the bible or anywhere else that he ever attended any school anywhere, nor does the bible or any other record contain a single word alleged to have been written by him. Apparently he was somewhat of a drifter, shifting from job to job and town to town. According to the bible, he was sometimes a carpenter and , at other times, a fisherman or a shepherd. He was apparently not successful enough at any of these professions to make them a career. The bible also makes clear that Jesus had a taste for wine.
Also worth noting - his best lady friend was a prostitute and he hated his own mother. Mommy issues.
He also had a temper as was shown when a fig tree failed to produce fruit on demand. He also flared at those who failed to recognize his claimed legitimacy as the son of God. He is also said to have raged a little when his own father – godhisownself - failed to rescue him from the clutches of the Romans. Since believers claim that he was not only the son of God, but was indeed God hisownself, then he was pissed at himself for failing to rescue himself from the cross. Seems to me that if he really was “God”, then the crucifixion was just a little charade for the locals. Seems to me that if he really was “God”, his crucifixion (more like cruci-fiction) would have been inconsequential, causing little permanent damage or inconvenience.
If Jesus really was God, then the crucifixion was a charade for the rubes.
He was followed around by an entourage of unemployed religious fanatics (as were David Koresh and Jim Jones). As I state in another essay, there is a certain managerial and logistical workload implicit in a traveling religion show. It seems to be beyond the scope of the bible to address – or maybe it was a little too seamy to include, or maybe, like any good movie, there is a lot of mundane background detail that don’t contribute to the story. One need only look at the way that traveling revivals and faith healers have operated throughout history to start to get a sense of what was going on. The words "snake oil" come to mind.
How many of those who were “raised from the dead” were raised from the dead again in the next town. How many of the lame walked anew in every town? In an age of ignorance and superstition, where news was sparse and rumor was treated like fact, where life was hard and all knew the pain of disease and deformity, those who promised cures – and who always managed to cure some unknown from the crowd - were sure to gather a following.
Remember that the alleged accounts of Jesus’ life were not written by eyewitnesses. They were written anywhere from 40 to 100 years after the alleged incidents by people with a vested interest in putting the best light on their founder. By then the stories had probably gotten a lot better with the telling and were replete with embellishments. His sermons got perfected and the whole story took on a life of its own.
Also note that, according to textual critic Bart Ehrman, in "Misquoting Jesus", on the subject, that out of over 5000 transcribed copies of bibles, written in Greek, no two of them are the same. There are many textual inconsistencies and obvious errors in translations. Some of the newer ones even have fabrications that did not exist in any earlier version, such as the whole "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone" story. Completely made up and inserted much later. The total number of inconsistencies and errors? More than the number of words in the New Testament. And a more relevant point is that not a single original of the texts exists.
The occasional human mind is bothered by what we know in laymen’s terms as the “god complex”. It is a euphoric/psychotic state in which the individual believes his own mind to be omnipotent and omniscient. It is somewhat context specific – its manifestation depend on the religious background of the individual – In xian cultures, the afflicted claim to be God or Jesus, while in other cultures they claim Allah or Buddha or Vishnu. The level of incapacitation covers a spectrum – from minor and manageable to complete and debilitating. Some of these people operate at a high level. Some are a real threat. Today we recognize this malady for what it is - a dangerous disease – and we either medicate or hospitalize the afflicted. The one thing we do not do is believe any of them.
Havelock Ellis said, “The whole religious complexion of the modern world is due to the absence from Jerusalem of a lunatic asylum.” To this I say "Amen".