Thursday, September 27, 2007

Does Christianity have foundations?

"For more than eight hundred years, the Order has preserved an ancient cache of documents that could shake Christianity to its foundations." (An excerpt from the back cover blurb of The Testament, a novel by Eric van Lustbader.)

That got me to thinking. Just what are the foundations of Christianity, and what could shake them?

The Bible, specifically the New Testament, is usually accepted as the primary foundation of Christianity. It's a hodgepodge of poorly written mythology. The Gospels (including Acts) look like sloppy fairy tales, quite likely largely plagiarized from previous man-god myths. They look nothing like credible biographies at all. The Epistles don't really add much understanding, in fact, most of them appear to have been written by people who didn't even know anything about the Gospel stories. Revelation appears to be the rantings of a madman. So much for the Bible.

Scholarship-minded Christians can find a number of other ancient Christian writings, of which an impressive collection is listed at . None of these writings are very informative.

Who was Jesus? We don't know. No contemporary mention of him has ever been found. The Gospels seem to describe him as, for the most part a nice guy, but little more than a confused dimwit whose most memorable accomplishment was to wangle twelve gullible morons to go traipsing round and about the countryside with him. Everything else written about him is pure fantasy. It's tempting to think he may be entirely fictional.

Who was Saint Paul? A Greek-speaking Jew in Tarsus? A supplier of tents to the Roman Army? A one-time student of Rabbi Gamaliel in Jerusalem? Assigned to persecute the new cult of Christians but then experienced a mystic conversion and decided to join them?

The pieces don't fit. What sort of Jewish community was there in Tarsus? What was his role in that community? Why would the Romans, who considered the Jews to be troublemakers, buy tents from a Jew. Why would any Jew, who would have considered the Romans to be oppressors, supply tents to their army? Where's the evidence that Paul had any knowledge of anything Rabbi Gamaliel would have ever taught? Who in a position of authority, before 50 AD, would have ever bothered to assign anybody to persecute the nearly unknown cult of Christians?

Who was Saint Peter? A poorly educated fisherman in Galilee who would have been fluent and possibly slightly literate in Aramaic and may have spoken a slight bit of Greek, later somehow makes it to Rome, where he would have needed to be fluent and at least semi-literate in Latin in order to become the leader of the Roman Christians? Seems somehow unlikely.

And then we have the Nicene Creed, based on pure imagination, not supported by any observation nor logical derivation.

And there you have it. Nothing but unsupported vapor. But Christian belief is unshakable. If an ancient document or physical object were to turn up proving that Jesus was a bigamist, married to both Mary Magdalene and Martha of Bethany, or perhaps a fraudulent camel-merchant who cheated all his customers, or maybe a Roman tax-collector in disguise, no modern-day Christian would accept it, no matter how well attested. Nobody's belief would be shaken.

Oh, but The Testament was a rather nice book anyway.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

clearly you aren't very intelligent.

ur criticism and sarcasm does nothing whatsoever to cover for your lack of knowledge in this area.

you disagree with something so you come up with this.??????

Jesus is noted in history...the ark has been found...paul became a tent maker after his conversion.....
get your facts straight before you try to sound intelligent!!