Big G, Little J, and The Other Guy

There’s an active conversation going on over at Ark’s blog that includes a Christian pastor ( a comparatively rare type of visitor for this blog).

Many of the “regulars” have asked him some probing questions and so far, he’s handled them fairly well (considering he’s a Believer).

In one comment, he made reference to the “Trinitarian Theology” — and I asked him if he knew the genesis of this belief. He responded that he had read all the documents leading up to the formation of this doctrine and we would “talk about it later.”

Since the comment section is getting quite long on Ark’s blog, I’m posting the question here — both for “Mel’s” response as well as any others who would like to jump in.

So … how did the doctrine of the “Holy Trinity” get started?

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Why Jesus?

jesus_nameplate
From All-Free-Download.com

ASSUME, for a moment, the person known as Yeshua/Jesus is genuine … that he was a living, breathing human who traveled the countryside and preached about Yahweh/God.

Now offer your opinion on who you think Jesus really was.

Ignore the Christian perspective that he came to “save the world.” Visualize him without all the fancy trappings of the gospel writers and Paul.

Also, for the sake of discussion, please put aside any belief you might have in the Christ myth theory. Assume that he did indeed exist.

Now offer your opinion … Why Jesus?

  • What was his role in the Abrahamic religion?
  • Why did this unknown Jew reach out to the people?
  • Did he truly see himself as the long-awaited Messiah?
  • Or was his role simply to inspire his people to honor Yahweh?

ADDENDUM

Stephen Wylen, a rabbi at Temple Beth Tikvah, Wayne, NJ, in his book, Jews in the Time of Jesus, asks:

How did the masses to whom Jesus preached understand his message? Who did he seem to be to them? Since the masses did not have a doctrine of the Christ into which they could fit Jesus, what did they think he was?

The Time for Prayer

forestfire
Illinois Valley Fire District photo

There currently are a LOT of fires burning in the state where I live (Oregon), as well as in neighboring states (Washington and California). As a result, people in the affected areas post frequently on Facebook with updates, pictures, and other news about the fires in their areas.

Among the many resulting comments to these posts, one word consistently pops up:  “Praying …”

Generally, people are directing their prayers to those who have been affected by the fire — either from having to evacuate (or even lose their homes) or, on a couple of occasions, the death of a firefighter.

While either scenario is terrible and one can’t help but experience empathy, the thought that keeps coming to my mind is … isn’t it a little late?

If you’re going to pray, why don’t you do it before the fire season starts … and then continue to do so throughout the entire summer? Pray that your god God prevents lightning from hitting trees during summer thunderstorms. Pray that your god God influences others not to use mowing and weeding equipment on dry grass and weeds. Or better yet, pray that your god God sends buckets of rain during the rainy season to keep the forests wet and less susceptible to fire.

Once a forest fire has ignited, the scene has been set. There is going to be destruction and sometimes loss of homes — and even lives. So prayers to your god God “after the fact” are pretty much next to useless. It may make you feel better because you’ve expressed your sympathy this way, but such prayers have little effect on the big picture.

Therefore, if you truly believe your god God is all-powerful and hears and answers prayer, wouldn’t the time for prayer be better before rather than after?

P.S. The picture above was taken just recently and was happening about 3 miles from where I live.

You Say You Believe in “God”

Siriusbizines at Amusing Nonsense wrote the following in a recent post:

At noon, even in a windowless room or outside on a cloudy day, one knows that the Sun should be somewhere overhead. It isn’t because of an unjustified belief resting solely on the faith that the Sun does what it does; it rests on repeated observations of the Sun doing what it does throughout our entire lives.

A visitor (Seth Scott) responded (in part) …

See, this sort of evidence, I think, is very much in line for many of my reasons for continuing to believe in God …

He goes on to say …

In my mind, atheists who assert that my “relationship with God” is actually a construct of my brain are somewhat on par with someone saying, “The sun doesn’t really exist — your brain just happens to hallucinate one moving in the exact same way in the exact same place in the sky every day.”

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As I read this, it once again raised the question in my mind: how can people believe in something that cannot be seen, heard, or felt (tangibly). The sun, at least, is visible and we are even able to “feel” its existence through the effects it has on our bodies (e.g., sunburn), as well as “see” its actions on the world around us.

And when atheists assert that a person’s “relationship with God” is a fabrication or a construct of the mind, I believe they do so because there is absolutely NOTHING to prove that such a “God” exists in the real world.

Superstition Still Rules

Essentially, belief in the Christian “God” — or any god, for that matter — is simply a result of superstition. That’s how it was from the beginning and that’s how it remains today.

Early humans did not understand the constant changing of seasons, the movement of the sun, moon and stars, the storms, dry spells, floods, earthquakes, etc. And what they did not understand, they feared. As a way to help explain the world around them, they created gods. Knowing there was a supernatural being in control gave them a sense of security in the face of natural forces. This is still the case among many tribes throughout the undeveloped world.

While “modern” folk now understand more about the forces of nature through (ahem) science (which some believers tend to discount), many still have a need for assurance that “something” is in control. This is why they “pray” to an invisible being to act in certain ways and why they “thank” this same unseen entity when things turn out in their favor. It seems the superstitious nature of the early humans is still present in our DNA.

It’s in the Book

In today’s world, the concept of “God” is found in a set of books written by a number of different people and put together in a single volume (Hebrew Bible c. 250 BCE; New Testament c. 300 CE) by “church fathers” who felt they knew best about what this “God” was saying. Many believe this book is “holy” and they refer to it frequently as “proof” their god exists. Yet it is a book. Nothing more. Just a book. It has no divine powers, just as its protagonist lacks existence.

Belief = Truth?

Michael Shermer once wrote, “… our brain reasons our way to supporting what we want to be true.” For me, this is nowhere more true than in the world of god-believers. And while this may describe non-believers as well, I have found they tend to use objective and concrete examples to support their reasons why something is “true.”

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You say you believe in “God.” And I ask, who or what is “God”?

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ADDENDUM

Someone once asked this question of God:

“Do any of us actually know what you are all about? We worship, revere, and pray to you but have absolutely no clue about you — who you are, where you came from, why you are, where you are, what you are … or if you even exist.”

Great question.

Religion to the Rescue

life buoyA month or so back, a local couple, after spending time on the Oregon coast and becoming engaged, were on their way home when they were involved in a car accident.  Tragically, the accident took the life of the newly-engaged young woman. Her new husband-to-be suffered neck and brain injuries and was nearly paralyzed. He has now recovered enough that he’s been able to return to work (finance manager), but has several surgeries still in store for him.

In a follow-up article about the incident, a news reporter from the local paper interviewed the young man. He is unable to remember driving home or anything about the accident. The reports are that he entered the center turn lane, apparently to pull into a small community located off the highway, and crashed head-on into an oncoming car. Some people who happened upon the crash pulled the couple out of the burning vehicle and reported each reached out and grabbed the other’s hand as they lay on the ground. Both were transported to the closest hospital, where the young lady was pronounced dead.

In the interview, the fellow reported that although he’s getting better physically, it’s been much harder to mend emotionally.

And then he commented (and this is the point of my post) that while growing up, life for him was very matter of fact and logical. He felt no need for religion or faith. However, after the accident, he said he felt faith was his only real option. Rather than find comfort in, say, alcoholism or drugs, he chose to find strength and comfort from God.

Such a transition in worldview is not unusual because this is how the religious world paints the portrait of “God” – the helper, the comforter, the one who takes away the pain of life. What most fail to recognize is the power to heal (emotionally and physically) is within ourselves. We don’t need some supernatural power to step in and make it all better (besides, in reality, it can’t).

Certainly, circumstances often make this life a very rough road to travel, but as many, many others have proven (my mind goes to Zoe, Victoria, and Ruth), it can be done. I just find it sad that so many fail to recognize this.