Aug 23, 2010

The God Who Wasn't There?

Jack KinsellaBy Jack Kinsella
The Omega Letter

I see a lot of ads in the course of a day’s work – so many that they barely register in my consciousness, but that’s not to say they don’t have a cumulative effect in the long run. That’s the way advertising works.

Propaganda is the father of modern advertising, so it stands to reason that it operates along the same principles; hyperbole, sensationalism, fear, but most of all, repetition. You can also learn a lot from who advertises what.

Newsweek, the LATimes and the New York Times all raved about a movie called, “The God Who Wasn’t There” with Newsweek raving in its ad that the movie “irreverently lays out the case that Jesus Christ never existed.”

(I love the use of the word ‘irreverent’ – is there a reverent way to mock the God of the Universe?)

I followed the link to see what the filmmakers had to say about their project, which they termed a “taboo-shattering documentary.” There they list some of the highlights of their case for the non-existence of Jesus.

  • The early founders of Christianity seem wholly unaware of the idea of a human Jesus.
  • The Jesus of the Gospels bears a striking resemblance to other ancient heroes and the figureheads of pagan savior cults.
  • Contemporary Christians are largely ignorant of the origins of their religion.
  • Fundamentalism is as strong today as it ever has been, with an alarming 44% of Americans believing that Jesus will return to earth in their lifetimes.
Ummm, that’s it? That’s their best case? That the early founders seem unaware of a human Jesus? Seem? The Roman/Jewish historian Flavius Josephus (c 37-101) wrote of a human Jesus. Didn’t seem unaware of Him at all.

One can say the same about Tacitus, Pliny the Younger, Suetonius, Thallus, etc. All were secular historians of the time, most were critical of Jesus’ Divinity, but none questioned His humanity.

That Jesus bears a resemblance to other “ancient heroes and figureheads of other pagan savior cults” is unsurprising to me. God promised a Savior in the Garden of Eden. That later pagan cults carried that ancestral memory is no more surprising that the universality among pagan religions of the story of the Flood.

To offer as ‘evidence’ that Jesus never existed that ‘contemporary Christians are largely ignorant of the origins of their religion’ is vacuous. Half of all Americans in a recent survey were ignorant of what country America won independence from.

Ignorance of the facts has no bearing on the facts themselves. (Unless one has no facts upon which to rest one's own argument. Then, ignorance becomes an ally).

The last ‘startling factoid’ – that 44% of Americans believe the Lord will return in their lifetimes” fascinates me since it refutes the entire premise of their argument.

Apart from being a breath-taking display of intellectual arrogance, it demands a willful ignorance of the obvious.

Their position is that Jesus absolutely, positively did not exist – a premise that is itself a demonstrably logical impossibility, since it is impossible to prove a negative.
“Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.” (2nd Peter 3:3-4)
Pretty much any of the militant-atheist evangelism videos now flooding the market feature the same superstars of the religion of nothing; Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens, members of the Jesus Seminar etc.

Militant atheism is a source of never-ending mystery to me. It offers nothing and takes everything. If they are right, there is no accountability beyond this life. One is answerable only to himself and to the law – but only if he gets caught.

The militant atheist argues that atheism is reason and that religion is responsible for war. Atheist Mao Tse Tung murdered 20 million Chinese; Pol Pot murdered 2 million Cambodians, Josef Stalin 50 million Russians, Adolf Hitler 12 million Jews, Gypsies, Slavs and other ‘untermenchen’.

What does that prove? It proves that men are responsible for war. Not religion. If not religion, it would be something else.

Atheism posits that men are basically good, but cannot explain what ‘good’ means. “Good” is a subjective term – it all depends on one’s perspective.

It takes a willful ignorance to hold to the position that man is basically good when one cannot define the basics of ‘good’ apart from the Word of God.

Osama bin Laden is a ‘good’ Muslim, if one is a Wahabbi jihadist. Sitting Bull was a ‘good’ Indian, if one was a Plains Indian hoping to drive off the invading white man.

Santa Ana was a ‘good’ general, if one were a member of the Mexican Army at the Alamo. Adolf Eichmann was a ‘good’ Nazi – if one were a member of Hitler’s inner circle.

The basic prohibition against killing is rooted in the fact that God grants life and only God has the right to take it. Remove the God of the Bible, and life is only worth what the prevailing society values it at.

Iran recently reversed a decision to stone a young mother of two to death for adultery. Bowing to international pressure, they’ve decided to hang her instead. That is what life is worth there.

In China, babies are routinely drowned by local authorities when couples exceed China’s ‘one-child’ policy without permission. That is what life is worth there. One could go around the world pointing out similar examples.

For “good” to exist, there must also be a corresponding evil against which to measure it. Good and evil are not atheist terms, they are religious terms.

In an atheist society, they are defined on a sliding scale, so what would be considered ‘good’ to an American atheist, such as freedom of speech would be exceeding evil to a dedicated atheist Communist.

When there is no benchmark definition for ‘good’ an atheist can argue that it is ‘good’ that a woman can choose to kill her baby rather than raise it because that way the baby won’t grow up in poverty.

To a Christian, taking an innocent life for any reason is always an act of unjustifiable evil.

Finally, there is the whole ‘scoffing’ issue. The word ‘scoffers’ (empaiktes) can also be translated, ‘mockers’ - and that is the part I find most intriguing about the whole atheist worldview.

An atheist claims to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that which is a logical impossibility to know, and from that position, mock those who hold the only remaining logical position, which is that it is impossible to KNOW, except by faith.

Apart from faith, I do not KNOW that Jesus existed any more than I KNOW that Abraham Lincoln existed. After all, I haven’t met either of them.

But I have faith that Lincoln’s biographers and the eyewitness accounts of his life and times are based in historical fact. If Lincoln did not exist, the entire flow of history would be interrupted.

I have faith that Jesus Christ existed for all the same reasons. And just as I believe that Lincoln freed the slaves of the Confederacy, I believe that Jesus freed the slaves to sin, myself included.

As I said at the outset, advertising has a cumulative effect on the brain. The more one repeats the same lie, the more believable it becomes. The proof is in the pudding. The fastest growing religion today, according to the CIA World Factbook, isn’t Christianity, Judaism or even Islam.

The fastest growing religion in America today is atheism. In 1990, about six percent of Americans self-identified as ‘unaffiliated’ or ‘none’. In 2010, that number is 18% and rising.

In the 1990s, the largest problems facing America were how best to spend the so-called ‘peace dividend’ and whether or not the President of the United States was allowed to lie about sex.

Today, it’s about whether or not America’s economy can survive the next decade and whether or not it matters if the President is even Constitutionally eligible.

“The fool hath said in his heart, there is no God.” (Psalms 14:1, 53:1)

Related Links
What does the Bible mean when it says “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God’”? -
Scientific Proof Of God -
The Certainty of God's Existence - Grace to You (John MacArthur)
A Young Man Struggles with Faith (Q&A) - (Tony Garland)
The Last Generation - Jack Kinsella (Book)