We know very little about the historical Jesus, since all our information comes from the texts of the New Testament, which were not primarily concerned with factual accuracy. (Karen Armstrong on p. 81 of The Case for God.)
In my last post, I summarized Karen Armstrong’s view of God and religion. One item that was of particular interest to me was her view of Jesus Christ. No other religion in her book gets the debunking she gives Christianity. (This also serves as a sort of counter point to the Believing Scholars point of view as discussed here.)
In her view, Jesus, for reasons lost in history, was crucified by the Romans only to have his disciples have “visions” that convinced them he had been raised from the dead. (p. 82) The first Christians were, of course, thoroughly Jewish which she believes had no intentions of founding a new religion, though she admits they took the “highly unusual” step of converting gentiles. (p. 82) This eventually lead to Paul (and probably others) belief that the mixed Jewish and Gentile congregations were the first fruits of a “new Israel.” Using Midrashic techniques, these early Christians reinterpreted the Old Testament to contain prophecies — never originally intended — of a future redeemer who would be crucified and rise from the dead. She uses 1 Cor 1:23 to prove that these reinterpretations were often considered scandalous. Continue reading
As I mentioned in my last post, Karen Armstrong’s book The Case for God is not really a case for God per se, but instead a case for human spirituality and religious practice. It was written in part as a response to the ‘new atheists’ (i.e. militant atheists) attacks on religion.
Logos and Mythos
Armstrong argues that there are two sources of knowledge in the world. One is logos, which is rationality, and the other is mythos. Logos helped us with daily survival, but could not assist us with human grief or finding ultimate meaning. For ‘ultimate meaning’ humans turned to mythos or “myth” though back then the word was not used (as it is today) as a synonym for untruth. (p. xi, 325) Religion and Mythos are the human way of living “joyously” with realities for which are insoluble, such as mortality, grief, and pain.  Continue reading
I recently listened to Karen Armstrong’s The Case for God not really knowing what to expect and without any preconceived ideas about it other than the vague memory that it was in part written as a response to the militant atheists such as Dawkins, Harris, Dennett, and Hitchens. I also remembered that a friend of mine, John Dehlin, had highly recommended it on one of his blogs or podcasts.
Though the book makes no case for God whatsoever, in it I was delighted to find a semi-systematic explanation of liberal theology. Better yet, it is most likely a non-literal theist view of liberal theology though, as we’ll see, this is not entirely clear due to her obfuscation of her point of view. Continue reading
…to the old theistic question, ‘Why is there something rather than nothing?’ we can… counterpose the findings of Professor Lawrence Krauss and others, about the forseeable heat death of the universe…. So, the question can and must be rephrased: “Why will our brief ‘something’ so soon be replaced with nothing?” It’s only once we shake our own innate belief in linear progression and consider the many recessions we have undergone and will undergo that we can grasp the gross stupidity of those who repose their faith in divine providence and godly design. (Christopher Hitchens as quoted by Skeptic Michael Shemer in Scientific American, Nov 2010. Emphasis mine.)
Let’s play a game of ‘just pretend.’ Just pretend that the world’s political leaders have just announced to the world that the greatest scientific minds have uncovered a horrifying truth: due to laws of physics not previously understood, our sun will burn out millions of years earlier than previously thought. Even now it is imperceptibly dimmed compared to historical measurements.
No one living today will be adversely affected by the dimming sun. We can go on living unaffected by it. Even two generations after we have all passed on, our children and descendants will still have enough energy from the sun to sustain life though by then it will be obvious that the sun is dimming.
Within three generations after that a global cooling cycle will have begun and the dreadful snowfall will signal a winter that will never end. People will be able to store up food, of course, but without any hope of new crops forming in the future no matter how many supplies are stored food will eventually start to run out.