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Christianity's Four Extraordinary Unexplainable Aspects

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Christianity's Four Extraordinary Unexplainable Aspects

Postby Scepcop » 26 Feb 2014, 14:07

Title: Four Extraordinary Aspects of Christianity That Atheists Can't Explain.

How can Christianity be untrue yet so powerful and transforming? My struggle as a deconvert.

Ever since I deconverted from the Christian faith in 1992, I've been grappling with an issue or paradox that I can't seem to make sense out of. Let me explain.

Using basic logic and reason, one can easily find lots of reasons in Atheistic and Anti-Christian literature and articles to use as a basis for disbelieving in Christianity. There are so many contradictions, logical problems, moral inconsistencies, absurdities in Christian doctrine, and lack of evidence to support the Bible's claims (or what Christian fundamentalists claim that the Bible says). Using logic to take apart the claims of Christians is as easy as shooting fish in a barrel, if one really wants to do it.

There are so many valid criticisms of Christianity and the Bible that make sense and cannot be explained away. In fact, I've listed many of them in my article here. These are all apparent to an objective rational clear thinking mind that has not been brainwashed by the belief that the Bible must be inerrant and the highest authority, being the word of God.

Yet in spite of all this, there still seems to be something very real about Christianity that is transformative and powerful as well which has stood the test of time. One can personally feel the power and realness of it (at least I do). Even as a non-Christian, one has to appreciate and admire that. So I think Atheists are wrong and narrow-minded to dismiss the value of Christianity as a whole. Consider the following verifiable major aspects of Christianity that attest to its real and transformative power throughout the ages and even now.

1. Christianity definitely has the power to transform lives. It has helped many people throughout history til now. There are countless testimonials of people who were broken and at the end of their rope, but after becoming born again Christians, found strength and salvation that brought them back to life. I know of many such people, have met them, and was one myself.

There are even accounts of people who were about to commit suicide but didn't after they found Christ, or found a Bible in a motel drawer and became saved after opening it. So it can even be said Christianity has saved lives and prevented suicides. In contrast, you will never hear stories of suicidal people at the end of their rope who found hope and strength in Atheist literature that saved their lives.

So it does seem that these sincere devout Christians are connecting to some kind of REAL power, whether externally or internally, which has a great transformative effect. I don't think it can be explained psychologically by mere placebo. It seems to be either spiritual, metaphysical, interdimensional, or divine in nature. So how do you explain that?

However, this isn't unique to Christianity. Other religions have transformed lives too. Islam, Mormonism, and even Buddhism has adherents who claim to have been helped or changed for the better by them. So how do you explain that? Christians can't explain this so they can only say that Satan can work behind other religions to fool people, but that is an obvious cop out that proves nothing.

2. Devout authentic Christians radiate a glow and energy about them that is different than secular people. There is something different in their eyes and vibe that sets them apart from average non-religious people in urban life who are materialistic, live for money and status, and have no inner life. If you've been around them, you know what I mean. It's like there is a foundation of righteousness and virtues within them that the secular person lacks. In particular, Mormons are known for their "Mormon glow" that radiates a clean and wholesome appearance. (Google "Mormon glow" and you will see references to this)

Now, I am not referring to any random person who calls himself a Christian, since anyone can pay lip service to being a Christian without living like one. I'm referring to the sincere devout Christian who carries a Bible, has many Bible verses memorized, generally lives according to the principles of his/her faith (not perfectly of course, but generally), and also has some type of "glow" about them. Thus, I think it would be logical to surmise that something very real must have transformed them like this. I don't think something totally false or unreal could do that.

3. Authentic experiences of miracles and answered prayer are common in Christian communities. There are many documented cases of miracles that defy conventional explanation, if one wants to find them. And every devout Christian can cite examples in his/her life of answered prayers that do not seem to be mere coincidence. Even I can.

For example, when I was 14, I was the only Christian in my family so did not have Christian friends to hang out with or even a church to go to. So one night I prayed and asked God to help me find Christian friends for fellowship and to have a church to go to. The next day or two, an old classmate of mine that I knew in 6th and 7th grade named called me. I had not heard from him in almost a year and there was no reason for him to call me. We had no business to discuss. He did not even know why he was calling me. It seemed like an unseen hand was making this happen.

After we made small talk for a while and caught up, I told him that I was listening to Christian radio. Then he asked if I was a Christian and told me that he was too. I told him that I had been since I was 9 but didn't take it seriously until now and had just rejuvenated my faith over the summer. But that I was a lone Christian with no church to go to. He then invited me to his community church.

Soon I went on a hayride with his Church Youth Group at night and then played miniature golf with them afterward. The people at the Youth Group were very warm, genuine and friendly, as if they had good souls. They were nothing like the mean, vile, hostile, rude teens at my school that made me feel vulnerable and uncomfortable everyday. It was refreshing to be around such people. It validated my faith and told me that there must be something to it. And it gave me the meaning in my life that I desperately needed. So for the next two years, I had a church to go to, and Christian friends to have fellowship with.

That's one example of an answered prayer I experienced. Every devout Christian has stories of answered prayer like this, that range from the mundane to the extraordinary. As you read, my prayer was answered almost the very next day by a classmate I hadn't heard from in a long time, who called me for no reason. And this did not seem like a coincidence at all. Old casual friends or acquaintances do not usually call me for no reason after not seeing me in a long time. As a Christian, somehow you just knew when a prayer was answered. I know that sounds subjective, but it was true and made my faith ever more real.

A pattern I noticed as a Christian is that prayers tend to be answered most often when one prays for things that are aligned with God's will. So people who pray for what they are supposed to, will get them answered most of the time. But prayers for things just to fulfill your greedy or selfish desires are usually unanswered. In my example, I was praying for the former of course.

Again, I'm sure that stories of answered prayer are not unique to Christianity. Believers of other religions and faiths have them too, if you want to find and interview them, or read their literature and testimonials. So how can we make sense of that?

4. Since its beginning, Christianity has spread throughout the world on an unprecedented scale that is inexplicable. Even historians marvel at this and have trouble explaining it. How can a small cult in Judea persecuted under Roman rule eventually become the world's biggest religion? This can't be explained just by the Roman Emperor Constantine making Christianity the official religion of the Roman Empire in the 4th Century AD. Many Roman Emperors have promoted other religions and pagan deities, yet they did not spread as Christianity did. It seemed as though Christianity was meant to spread as it did, as though it were destined to be. No Atheist can explain this sufficiently.

See the documentaries "Christianity: The First 1000 Years" and "Christianity: The Second 1000 years" and you will be impressed.

Something that is unreal and powerless could not spread globally like that on an unprecedented scale. Only something with real power and destiny behind it could do that. So how can you explain that? Of course, the same could be said for Islam too, which also spread like wildfire, and is the world's second most popular religion.

Concluding Questions and Speculations

So you see, even an Atheist and non-Christian has to appreciate Christianity. It has helped so many people and transformed so many broken lives. No one can deny that. Sure people have used it to do wrong and abuse others for their own interests. And kings, popes and emperors (e.g. Constantine) have used it subversively for political purposes too. But that's due to the flaws of human nature. It doesn't mean there's nothing to it. Either way, the above is still true regarding the Christian phenomenon.

So I'm not sure how to explain all this. How could a religion that makes no logical sense and is unprovable transform so many lives, produce so many miracles and answered prayers in common people's lives, and spread globally so quickly after its inception?

Does all this mean that everything in the Bible must be true, or that all Christian doctrine must be true? If so, how can one explain the fact that the same holds true for other religions as well? How can one reconcile all this?

Could it be that Christian salvation may really work in connecting you to a real higher divine power or deity, even though some of its doctrines and tenets may not be true? What I mean is that just because it puts you in touch with something divine, does not mean that it's the "only way to God", nor does it mean that every non-Christian is going to hell. And it does not mean that every Christian doctrine based on human interpretation of the Bible must be all true either. Neither does it mean that every extreme claim by the Christian church is true. See what I'm saying?

There are those who believe that there is one God that works through different religions and faiths. These types like to say, "I believe in God but not religion." They argue that God either gave people in different cultures different ways of worshipping him or connecting with him, or that mankind created the different religions in their attempt to interpret the same God. Either way, they argue that a wise and understanding God would be flexible and try to work through all religions as long as people come to him with good sincere intent.

Or could it be that just as there are many people and animals on Earth, so too there are many different Gods or deities in the heavens or higher dimensions? If so, then different deities may govern each religion. Jesus and Buddha may reside in different realms of heaven, for example. If there are many members of every species, why can't there be societies of Gods and deities as well, kind of like the Greek Gods and Nordic Gods? Why does there have to be only one God, just because some book, church or Christian says so? After all, just because a book, church or Christian says something doesn't make it true.

Christians would respond to this by saying that one cannot cherry pick by picking and choosing what one wants to believe and what one doesn't. They argue that you either accept the Bible 100 percent or not at all. But this is an extreme black and white argument, which Christians are notorious for. Reality is not black and white. Any wise person will tell you that nearly all ideas and beliefs have some degrees of truth in them that is often situational, not absolute.

Moreover, if God gave you a brain to think and reason, why not assume that you should use it? One has the right to separate the wheat from the chaff. There is no logical basis to argue that one should accept all of a religion or none of it. Especially when each religion has evolved over time and been changed and tailored by people and rulers to fit their biases and agendas. All major religions most likely have deviated from their original founder's intentions, Christianity included.

So what do you think? How do you reconcile all this? I've been grappling with these issues since 1992 when I deconverted from Christianity. Any of you wrestle with the same dilemma? It seems like a paradox, like much of life is.

It's hard to make sense out of all this. There are many ways of looking at all this and many arguments that could be made on both sides. All of it leaves a lot of uncertainty that is open to interpretation.

What I've concluded is that Christianity is right for some but not for others. It can bring happiness and fulfillment (which it did for me), as well as a sense of purpose. Many people need this. But it also narrows and closes the mind as well. You feel impaired from learning new things that don't fit with Christian teaching.

Problems and restrictions with Christian life

As a devout Christian, you are restricted from intellectual freedom and exploration. For example, Christians are forbidden to study Astrology. So when I was a Christian, I could not pick up an Astrology book without feeling guilty, since I was told that such subjects were Satanic. Christianity's moral laws are also very restrictive if taken literally, especially the "no sex outside of marriage" law. Sometimes, such laws and restrictions make sin more tempting than it otherwise would be.

What's more, trying to live the Christian life seriously is not easy, but often confusing. There are so many interpretations of the Bible, and so many variations of Christian denominations and doctrines, that you are left confused and don't know what to believe. So no matter how serious and sincere you are in your faith, there are no clear definitive answers that all your Christian peers and teachers will agree on.

Also, since God and Jesus can't talk to you directly, you have to always keep guessing what his will is, or look for signs. So often you are left shrugging and wondering, "How do I know what God wants me to do about this or that?" You also can't help but wonder if following God's plan will make you happy or not. I mean, what if his plan is not what you want? What about your freedom of choice? These are difficult issues with no easy answers.

Did Jesus Christ Exist?

In modern times, there are those who claim that a historical Jesus never existed. They call themselves "mythicists" and claim that he was made up, by either Roman Emperors or the evangelist Paul. One of their main champions is Archarya S who wrote "The Christ Conspiracy: The Greatest Story Ever Sold". Another is Joseph Atwill who wrote a book and produced a documentary called "Caesar's Messiah: The Roman Conspiracy to Invent Jesus".

These mythicists do have some valid points to support their theory. However, I think it is more likely that Jesus Existed because:

1) A hoax can only go so far. People can feel the difference between truth and falsehood at a deeper level. For example, women usually know when their partner is cheating on them, even when they have no evidence. They can sense it at an instinctual and intuitive level. Likewise, people can feel out a hoax eventually, even if they fall for it at first. It loses its power over them over time.

Also, a hoax does not result in millions of lives being transformed, and early Christians enduring three centuries of Roman persecution. Nor can a hoax become the world's biggest religion. A hoax does not have the power to transform lives, answer prayers (in ways that coincidences can't, which Atheists can't explain and can only dismiss) and perform real miracles (many of which are documented and attested to by multiple eyewitnesses). So that just doesn't make sense.

2) Plus, claiming that someone never existed is an extreme claim, and unprovable as well. One cannot prove a negative. There are billions of people throughout history that no historical record was made up, but that doesn't mean they didn't exist. Jesus was not a significant figure at the time he lived, so it would be understandable that there are no Roman historical records of him at the time.

3) At the time of Jesus, no one was expecting a messiah that would be crucified. A crucified messiah was never part of Jewish beliefs prior to Christianity. So if someone were to make up a messiah, it would be a great warrior or king figure that won many battles and freed many slaves, like King David or Moses. They would not make up a messiah that was executed by the Romans in the most humiliating way. That would mean that the messiah was defeated and failed. It would be a downer and would not inspire people.

So I think most likely there was a historical Jesus who was crucified, which left his followers confused and disillusioned. So they began looking for a way to justify a crucified messiah. They reinvented the whole theology of the Old Testament, and claimed that it was God's plan all along to have the messiah crucified to wash away our sins. In doing so, they embellished stories about Jesus, including his alleged resurrection. This is in fact, the view that most historians hold about the historical Jesus.

Later on, the Christian message was subverted down the line by those wishing to use it for political control, such as Emperor Constantine, who most likely created the orthodox version of Christianity by combining Jesus' teachings with pagan rituals and Roman hierarchical structures into what became the Roman Catholic Church. Thus, the version of Jesus given by the church today is likely not the same as the historical Jesus. Most neutral objective historians hold this view as well.

For a great book on whether Jesus existed, see Bart Ehrman's "Did Jesus Exist?" Dr. Ehrman is a distinguished Bible scholar, historian and former Christian who has participated in many public debates on Christianity.

Gnostic Origins of Christianity?

Moreover, additional Gospels found during archaeological excavations, known as the "Lost Gospels" which contain Gnostic teachings of early Christian sects, also shed light on this issue. Banned from the Bible by the Council of Nicea - established by Constantine in the 4th Century - these books contain titles such as "The Gospel of Thomas", "The Gospel of Peter", "The Gospel of Mary Magdalene" and even "The Gospel of Judas". They also contain alternate accounts of the life of Jesus.

These Gnostic Gospels contain ideas that resemble Eastern religions (lending credence to the theory that Jesus may have gone to India during the missing period when he was between 12 and 30). They teach reincarnation, individual spirituality, direct connection to God, and allow the possibility of us all becoming "Sons of God" without the need of an institution or priesthood to intercede for us. They also refer to God as both a mother and father, containing masculine and feminine qualities. And they tell of Jesus having a relationship with Mary Magdalene.

These teachings differ from that of orthodox Christianity, which suggests that early Christians sects may have held different esoteric beliefs and a wider theology than that of the mainstream Christian establishment today. What this means is that Christianity may have been far more esoteric, mystical and open-minded before it became institutionalized and canonized by the state for political control by Romans rulers, church papacy, and monarchs. Hence, these texts were not included into the Bible because their ideas did not fit into the agenda of the powers that be. Instead, these texts were suppressed and buried, and the Gnostics were persecuted as heretics until their existence was virtually wiped out.

For orthodox Christians to reject the Gnostic teachings, they would have to take on faith that Emperor Constantine and his council were more interested in truth than in politics and control, which would be illogical, baseless and contrary to common sense regarding the nature of power. History has always shown that rulers are far more interested in control than truth. Their position mandates it, for their job is that of control, not in the spreading of truth to enlighten the masses. Thus to assume that Constantine's decisions regarding the formation of Christian canon and inclusion of the books of the Bible, were infallible and motivated purely by truth, would require too great of a leap of faith beyond reason.

To learn more about Gnostic teachings and the Lost Gospels, look up books by Professor Elaine Pagels, who has written many books on the subject, available on Amazon.com. There are also many documentaries about this subject that you can watch for free on YouTube too.

A wiser and more evolved way to look at Christianity and religion

Even if the Bible and Christian doctrine are not literally true, there does seem to be something very real behind the power of Christianity. Even as a non-Christian, I can see this. It's obvious. But we could say the same for Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, and even New Age beliefs too. There seems to be something very real and transformative behind those religions as well. Most likely, they all contain kernels of truth at some level in their teachings. After all, all beliefs have some degree of truth in them, and this includes religious beliefs as well.

The problem with Christianity is that it has gotten a bad rap from fanatical literalists, and people who have done great wrong in its name (e.g. Crusades, Inquisition, Witch Trials, punishment and executions of opposers to the Church, subjugation of native tribes, etc). It has also become too institutionalized and subjected to politics, power, control and money (especially with the Catholic Church). It also makes extreme claims, such as if you accept Jesus as your Savior you will go to Heaven, but if you don't, you will go to Hell.

All of this has contributed to its highly controversial reputation. But most likely, it has deviated greatly from the original teachings of its founder, Jesus, and his early disciples. So if you remove all that, it becomes not as bad, and perhaps you can then find some truth in it.

Perhaps if we learn to look at these religions more as symbolic metaphors of truth, rather than as literal truth, they would make a lot more sense to the reasoning mind. After all, taking religion too literally results in too many logical problems that cannot be resolved.

So I think that's the best way to approach this. We should see mankind's religions as ideas which point to a higher truth, and serve as archetypes of our collective consciousness. Even Buddhism and Zen teaches that their religion is like a finger pointing at the moon. The finger is not the moon itself of course, it merely points to it.

It would make a lot more sense to look at religion this way. If we did, it would end the perpetual squabbling and debate between different religious beliefs, religion and science, theism and atheism, etc. In doing so, such dualities and dichotomies would be transcended. I think this view would be far wiser and more reasonable than grappling with literal interpretations that cannot be proven or disproven one way or another.

Final thoughts and lessons

In the final analysis, there is so much about reality we don't know and can't explain. We may never have all the answers to life's deepest mysteries. Ultimately, one either embraces this uncertainty and becomes one with it, or tries to find answers in religion, science, spirituality, metaphysics, etc. or doesn't think about it at all and escapes into the materialist pursuits of life. The choice is up to you.

In closing, I will share with you a lesson I've learned about the pursuit of truth: Truth does not come on a silver platter, nor does it come in a package like fast food. Truth is a search, a process, a journey of discovery without end. Truth is also multi-layered. There are outer layer and inner layers. Some of the layers are simple, others are complex, and others are beyond words and human understanding. Just as insects and animals cannot understand mathematics or language, so too there are levels of reality and dimensions that the human mind cannot comprehend. There is a limit to what we can understand at our current level and stage of evolution.

All we can do for now is go by what we know from our experiences, while remaining open to new things, new experiences and new possibilities. As philosopher and freethinker Darryl Sloan stated in his book Reality Check:

"The most productive mindset you can have is simply this: always, always, always have a belief system that doesn't resist change. Go wherever the information leads you, without fear, because surely the truth is never something to dread." - Darryl Sloan, Reality Check
“Devotion to the truth is the hallmark of morality; there is no greater, nobler, more heroic form of devotion than the act of a man who assumes the responsibility of thinking.” - Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged
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Re: How can Christianity be false yet so real and powerful?

Postby ProfWag » 26 Feb 2014, 19:19

Have you ever had anyone close to you pass away Winston? If so, I'm sure you heard from others that he/she is "in a better place." That's the basis of religion in general that it gives people peace during the grieving process. It gives people hope that they continue to exist after death rather than rot in a coffin. It's powerful because it helps people get through rough times. Personally, I think that's all there is.
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Re: How can Christianity be false yet so real and powerful?

Postby Scepcop » 06 Mar 2014, 12:43

Well that's one aspect of it. But it also fulfills people and gives them something to believe in. People don't like chaos and uncertainty. Humans seem hardwired to believe in a higher power or creator. There are studies that show this that I posted before.

How do you know that's all there is to it? What about the major aspects of Christianity that I outlined above? Your explanation does not address or explain them at all.

Atheism does not answer life's greatest mysteries. So what other choices are there?

You gotta give Christianity some credit. Many who were about to commit suicide changed their minds after reading the Bible. But none of them changed their minds after reading Atheist literature.
“Devotion to the truth is the hallmark of morality; there is no greater, nobler, more heroic form of devotion than the act of a man who assumes the responsibility of thinking.” - Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged
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Re: How can Christianity be false yet so real and powerful?

Postby Scepcop » 06 Mar 2014, 12:45

Here are several paragraphs I added to the conclusion section about my conclusions on Christianity.

"What I've concluded is that Christianity is right for some but not for others. It can bring happiness and fulfillment (which it did for me), as well as a sense of purpose. Many people need this. But it also narrows and closes the mind as well. You feel impaired from learning new things that don't fit with Christian teaching.

As a devout Christian, you are restricted from intellectual freedom and exploration. For example, Christians are forbidden to study Astrology. So when I was a Christian, I could not pick up an Astrology book without feeling guilty, since I was told that such subjects were Satanic. Christianity's moral laws are also very restrictive if taken literally, especially the "no sex outside of marriage" law. Sometimes, such laws and restrictions make sin more tempting than it otherwise would be.

What's more, trying to live the Christian life seriously is not easy, but often confusing. There are so many interpretations of the Bible, and so many variations of Christian denominations and doctrines, that you are left confused and don't know what to believe. So no matter how serious and sincere you are in your faith, there are no clear definitive answers that all your Christian peers and teachers will agree on.

Also, since God and Jesus can't talk to you directly, you have to always keep guessing what his will is, or look for signs. So often you are left shrugging and wondering, "How do I know what God wants me to do about this or that?" You also can't help but wonder if following God's plan will make you happy or not. I mean, what if his plan is not what you want? What about your freedom of choice? These are difficult and paradoxical issues. There are no easy answers."
“Devotion to the truth is the hallmark of morality; there is no greater, nobler, more heroic form of devotion than the act of a man who assumes the responsibility of thinking.” - Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged
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Re: How can Christianity be false yet so real and powerful?

Postby ProfWag » 07 Mar 2014, 20:37

Here's a peer reviewed journal article on suicides that compares rates between various religious affiliations to include atheism. Might help in your post, Winston.
http://ajp.psychiatryonline.org/article.aspx?articleid=177228
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Re: How can Christianity be false yet so real and powerful?

Postby Scepcop » 18 Mar 2014, 20:33

I want to address two more points on this subject, so I added these two sections to the conclusion:

Did Jesus Christ Exist?

In modern times, there are those who claim that a historical Jesus never existed. They call themselves "mythicists" and claim that he was made up, by either Roman Emperors or the evangelist Paul. One of their main champions is Archarya S who wrote "The Christ Conspiracy: The Greatest Story Ever Sold". Another is Joseph Atwill who wrote a book and produced a documentary called "Caesar's Messiah: The Roman Conspiracy to Invent Jesus".

These mythicists do have some valid points to support their theory. However, it is way too implausible that someone who never existed and was simply "made up" could spawn a religion that endured three centuries of Roman persecution, became the official mandated religion in all of Europe during the Middle Ages, and is now the world's most popular religion. Something made up, fabricated or hoaxed, could not have accomplished all that. Deep down, people can feel the difference between truth and falsehoods. This is why hoaxes don't tend to go very far. So I think this theory is far too much of a stretch and highly implausible.

Plus, claiming that someone never existed is an extreme claim, and unprovable as well. One cannot prove a negative. It is more probable that a historical Jesus existed, but that his message was subverted down the line by those wishing to use it for political control, such as Emperor Constantine, who most likely created the orthodox version of Christianity by combining Jesus' teachings with pagan rituals and Roman hierarchical structures into what became the Roman Catholic Church. Thus, the version of Jesus given by the church today is likely not the same as the historical Jesus. Most neutral objective historians hold this view as well.

Gnostic Origins of Christianity?

Moreover, additional Gospels found during archaeological excavations, known as the "Lost Gospels" which contain Gnostic teachings of early Christian sects, also shed light on this issue. Banned from the Bible by the Council of Nicea - established by Constantine in the 4th Century - these books contain titles such as "The Gospel of Thomas", "The Gospel of Peter", "The Gospel of Mary Magdalene" and even "The Gospel of Judas". They also contain alternate accounts of the life of Jesus.

These Gnostic Gospels contain ideas that resemble Eastern religions (lending credence to the theory that Jesus may have gone to India during the missing period when he was between 12 and 30). They teach reincarnation, individual spirituality, direct connection to God, and allow the possibility of us all becoming "Sons of God" without the need of an institution or priesthood to intercede for us. They also refer to God as both a mother and father, containing masculine and feminine qualities. And they tell of Jesus having a relationship with Mary Magdalene.

These teachings differ from that of orthodox Christianity, which suggests that early Christians sects may have held different esoteric beliefs and a wider theology than that of the mainstream Christian establishment today. What this means is that Christianity may have been far more esoteric, mystical and open-minded before it became institutionalized and canonized by the state for political control by Romans rulers, church papacy, and monarchs. Hence, these texts were not included into the Bible because their ideas did not fit into the agenda of the powers that be. Instead, these texts were suppressed and buried, and the Gnostics were persecuted as heretics until their existence was virtually wiped out.

For orthodox Christians to reject the Gnostic teachings, they would have to take on faith that Emperor Constantine and his council were more interested in truth than in politics and control, which would be illogical, baseless and contrary to common sense regarding the nature of power. History has always shown that rulers are far more interested in control than truth. Their position mandates it, for their job is that of control, not in the spreading of truth to enlighten the masses. Thus to assume that Constantine's decisions regarding the formation of Christian canon and inclusion of the books of the Bible, were infallible and motivated purely by truth, would require too great of a leap of faith beyond reason.

To learn more about Gnostic teachings and the Lost Gospels, look up books by Professor Elaine Pagels, who has written many books on the subject, available on Amazon.com. There are also many documentaries about this subject that you can watch for free on YouTube too.
“Devotion to the truth is the hallmark of morality; there is no greater, nobler, more heroic form of devotion than the act of a man who assumes the responsibility of thinking.” - Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged
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Re: How can Christianity be false yet so real and powerful?

Postby Scepcop » 25 Mar 2014, 08:08

Bart Ehrman, a distinguished Bible scholar, historian and former Christian, made a great point in his book "Did Jesus Exist?" about why a historical Jesus existed.

He said that no one at the time was expecting a messiah that would be crucified. A crucified messiah was never part of Jewish beliefs prior to Christianity. So if someone were to make up a messiah, he would make up a great warrior or king figure that won many battles and freed many slaves, like King David or Moses. They would not make up a messiah that was executed by the Romans in the most humiliating way. That would mean that the messiah was defeated and failed. It would be a downer and would not inspire people.

So most likely there was a historical Jesus who was crucified, which left his followers confused and disillusioned. So they began looking for a way to justify a crucified messiah. They reinvented the whole theology of the Old Testament, and claimed that it was God's plan all along to have the messiah crucified to wash away our sins. In doing so, they embellished stories about Jesus, including his alleged resurrection.

This is in fact, the view that most historians hold about the historical Jesus. You can listen to Bart Ehrman's interview about this here:



Furthermore, Dr. Ehrman says that the Romans did not commonly worship dying and rising pagan saviors. He says that is a myth that Atheists created that is not backed up by historical evidence. I don't know about this and have not looked into it. But if he's right, then I wonder where Archarya S got her sources.

I think that Dr. Ehrman is probably right. Plus, a hoax can only go so far. People can feel the difference between truth and falsehood at a deeper level. For example, women usually know when their partner is cheating on them, even when they have no evidence. They can sense it at an instinctual and intuitive level. Likewise, people can feel out a hoax eventually, even if they fall for it at first. It loses its power over them over time.

Also, a hoax does not result in millions of lives being transformed, and early Christians enduring three centuries of Roman persecution. Nor can a hoax become the world's biggest religion. A hoax does not have the power to transform lives, answer prayers (in ways that coincidences can't, which Atheists can't explain and can only dismiss) and perform real miracles (many of which are documented and attested to by multiple eyewitnesses). It just would not make sense.

Even if the Bible and Christian doctrine are not literally true, there does seem to be something very real behind the power of Christianity. Even as a non-Christian, I can see this. It's obvious. But we could say the same for Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, and even New Age beliefs too. There seems to be something very real and transformative behind those religions as well. Most likely, they all contain kernels of truth at some level in their teachings. After all, all beliefs have some degree of truth in them, and this includes religious beliefs as well.

The problem with Christianity is that it has gotten a bad rap from fanatical literalists, and people who have done great wrong in its name (e.g. Crusades, Inquisition, Witch Trials, punishment and executions of opposers to the Church, subjugation of native tribes, etc). It has also become too institutionalized and subjected to politics, power, control and money (especially with the Catholic Church). It also makes extreme claims, such as if you accept Jesus as your Savior you will go to Heaven, but if you don't, you will go to Hell.

All of this has contributed to its highly controversial reputation. But most likely, it has deviated greatly from the original teachings of its founder, Jesus, and his early disciples. So if you remove all that, it becomes not as bad, and perhaps you can then find some truth in it.

Perhaps if we learn to look at these religions more as symbolic metaphors of truth, rather than as literal truth, they would make a lot more sense to the reasoning mind. After all, taking religion too literally results in too many logical problems that cannot be resolved.

So I think that's the best way to approach this. We should see mankind's religions as ideas which point to a higher truth, and serve as archetypes of our collective consciousness. Even Buddhism and Zen teaches that their religion is like a finger pointing at the moon. The finger is not the moon itself of course, it merely points to it.

It would make a lot more sense to look at religion this way. If we did, it would end the perpetual squabbling and debate between different religious beliefs, religion and science, theism and atheism, etc. In doing so, such dualities and dichotomies would be transcended. I think this view would be far wiser and more reasonable than grappling with literal interpretations that cannot be proven or disproven one way or another.
“Devotion to the truth is the hallmark of morality; there is no greater, nobler, more heroic form of devotion than the act of a man who assumes the responsibility of thinking.” - Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged
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Re: How can Christianity be untrue yet so powerful/transform

Postby Greatest I am » 28 Mar 2014, 06:52

Yes. Transforming.

From full churches to a lot of empty space. Have you not noted the numbers dropping?

Our young are not near as foolish as their parents.

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