Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Paradoxes and clockses

If I find a watch in the woods, it is reasonable to expect that it was made by a watchmaker. However, I already know that watchmakers exist. Not only that, but watchmakers not much less systematic and orderly and consistent than watches.

One time, I was talking with my friend, Luc; he was arguing that Christianity doesn't hold together because Jesus was not a fit sacrifice. Jesus was cursed, he was hung on a tree, and according to Deuteronomy 21:22-23,
When someone is convicted of a crime punishable by death and is executed, and you hang him on a tree, his corpse must not remain all night upon the tree; you shall bury him that same day, for anyone hung on a tree is under God’s curse. You must not defile the land that the Lord your God is giving you for possession.

Luc's argument was dumb. It's not like he's the first person in two thousand years to have read Deuteronomy, it's not as if all Christians are so dishonest that they'd throw out that verse.

Luc was also arguing to me that the gospels were ahistorical, Luke, especially, because they were overwhelmed by an early erroneous Pauline influence. I'm confused why the early Christians would construe the gospels in such a way that Jesus would be painted as accursed if that curse would undermine their theology.

What Luc missed, more than the logic, was how little the Christian God seems to care about logic. The meaning of the crucifixion stories is held in Jesus thoroughly absorbing our wrongdoing into himself, and suffering the punishment for all of our vileness, so that that we are made whole and he is exalted. It's not supposed to make sense, it's supposed to be good.

If the Christian God were trying to make sense, the Bible would be shorter, it would be in bullet point format, and all the jokes would have been edited out.

Luc was playing by the wrong rules. He was thinking that there were any rules at all to knowing, when it comes to God. Christianity defies these rules. Polite church people call the doctrines of the Trinity and the incarnation "mysteries" or "paradoxes". These are logical contradictions, and attempts to reconcile them betray a lack of understanding of their meaning.

I am frequently asked what it would take for me to believe. God is impossible. He's three people, and one of them is also a human being, who died and stopped being dead. God, being infinite, somehow made finite beings who are distinct from him. What sort of science or history would it take to demonstrate with confidence these absurd and beautiful notions?

1 comment:

  1. I posted this on a different entry, but I guess I'll go ahead and post upfront, too.

    Glad you're still here.

    Looks like people are still finding this blog when they google "christian agnostic". That's how I ended up here.

    It's a lonely place to be. All of my closest friends and family members are Christians of one stripe or another, and I used to believe. Now I doubt. I still love Jesus as described in the gospels (especially John) but I eventually had to admit that I don't believe the things a person who calls him-or-herself a Christian is supposed to believe.

    I've been trying to find a likeminded community. I tried Unitarianism for awhile, but it didn't quite fit. I want to have honest conversations with people who respect both my doubt, and my desire for belief. I want to talk about what Christian Agnosticism looks and feels like, the lived experience. Because when I try to explain my position to well-meaning friends and family, they say "That's an oxymoron!" instead of "what does that mean to you?"