C. S. Lewis, author of the Narnia books and himself an atheist before turning to Christianity, was critical of the idea that Jesus was a great moral teacher, but not divine, with the following trilemma:
- Jesus was lying and knew it, so he was a liar.
- Jesus was lying but believed what he was saying, so he was a lunatic.
- Jesus was telling the truth, so he was divine.
Thus, according to Lewis, Jesus could only be a great moral teacher if he was telling the truth and was the son of God. Later, this argument was used as a logical proof that Jesus was in fact the son of God.
- Point 1 couldn’t be true, or so the argument goes, because then Jesus wouldn’t be willing to die for it.
- Point 2 couldn’t be true, because Jesus for some reason couldn’t be a lunatic.
- Therefore, the logical conclusion is that Jesus was divine.
The point was raised in the comments to one of my blog entries on my Import Mind.Reason blog that there may be a fourth option – Jesus never claimed to be the son of God but that the early Christians misunderstood this or decided it for themselves…
Hewhay (yes, that’s Yahweh spelled backwards) is a jealous god. He absolutely hates the idea of the Christian god taking precedence over him in people’s minds. Hewhay is also an angry god, like the one in the Bible (especially the OT god). Therefore, he’s gonna punish you for believing in Yahweh.
You see, Hewhay is a fan of science fiction. He has constructed two kinds of Virtual Reality helmets. Every time someone dies, he’s gonna strap their souls in one of the two kinds of helmets. One helmet will eternally simulate your worst nightmares. The other will construct a virtual reality wherein all your wildest dreams come true. There’s no mercy: once you’re wearing a helmet, there’s no way it’s coming off for the rest of eternity.
Hewhay will punish Christians by strapping their souls to nightmare helmets. If you believe in any other god or no god at all, he’ll put you in a dream helmet. It appears that your best move is to not believe in the Christian god.
After the overwhelming response on my last blog entry “Don’t Ask Me To Read Your Holy Book,” I figured I finally had material for a FAQ. Then I realized many of the comments would be difficult to formulate in question form, so instead, this is a FVC (Frequently Voiced Criticisms). Since I cannot possibly answer everyone, and since I can hardly expect readers to wade through over 300 comments to find my viewpoint, I will try to answer some general trends here.
How can you criticize something you have never read?
This objection is based on the following quote:
I will admit that I haven’t read the entire Bible. Does this mean I cannot be critical of Christianity? Does the fact that I haven’t read the Koran mean I cannot be critical of Islam? Absolutely not! I don’t believe them. The basic premise of these books is that they are of divine nature. They’re built on the assumption that they are inspired by or directly delivered from God, creator and all.
This admittedly looks rather strange without context, possibly even in context, because you can’t read my mind and find out what I really meant…
An A-Religious Commentary:
Why pray to an omniscient god? After all, it by definition knows whatever you’re about to say already. There is absolutely nothing you can tell an omniscient god. There is no point in communicating your desires to it, because it knows already, even before you yourself are aware of them.
Rather, prayer must be a sort of recognition. By praying to a god, you recognize it as your god and show your devotion. But why this empty gesture? Surely an omniscient god would know this too? If a god knows everything there is to know, it most certainly knows your true feelings, and no amount of prayer will ever fool such a god into thinking you’re really devout when you’re actually not. God will shine through all your attempts at hiding your true self. If you think that your god values honesty, it would be best not to try, lest you be punished for your lies and dishonesty. So either prayer is an empty gesture, or it must be neither communication of desires nor recognition. (more…)
Cow found near Lake Nyos,
killed by evil spirits suffocated from gases.
In northwestern Cameroon lies Lake Nyos. According to legend, a long time ago, the evil spirits in the lake became angry and killed everyone in the lake’s proximity (or so says neatorama). On August 21, 1986, the spirits struck again, killing around 1800 people and 3500 livestock. Was this proof of the supernatural?
Of course not. That would be silly. As it turns out, a magma chamber beneath the region is feeding the lake with CO2. Over time, the water becomes supersaturated, and events such as an earthquake can release large amounts of CO2. This is what happened. Up to a cubic kilometer CO2 was released, displacing the air and suffocating human and animal alike…