Class Warfare Blog

August 19, 2019

Preaching … uh, Throwing Sops to the Choir

Filed under: Reason,Religion — Steve Ruis @ 11:06 am
Tags: ,

In various discussions of religion, I think that a bit too much deference is paid to the “teachings” of religious figures. Since I know more about Christianity that I do any other religion, I will confine myself to commenting on its teachings.

Atheists seem to cede profundity to Jesus’ teachings where I find them banal and somewhat lacking. At one point the character Jesus is asked to summarize, distill down the Law to its essence (“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”) and Jesus replies: that there are only two things that are needed: to love god (himself?) and to love one’s neighbors as you would yourself.

Taking these one at a time. First “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.”(Mark 12, Matthew 22, Like 10, Deuteronomy 6, and the well-known Shema Prayer). If you are addressing a religious people on religious topics, you have to preach a little to the choir. If you are more cynical, Jesus is behaving as any salesman would do. But we are told, often enough, that this god is complete in and of himself and needs nothing. Apparently “nothing” includes your love, your belief, and your faith, without which Christians believe their god (God is love.) will introduce you to Hell where you will roast in flames forever and ever, amen. Why does this god need our love? If you read the Hebrew Bible closely, his #1 requirement and his #1 “ask” is for obedience, not love. This god wants obedience above all of his other wants and desires.

Second we have “The second is equally important: Love your neighbor as yourself.” It may be important, but it is impossible. There is a common trope used by some Christians of “God first, others second, me third.” Right. Good luck with that. Is it possible to love another as much as you love yourself? I think it is possible. People sacrificing their lives to save family members is evidence of this, as is soldiers dying to save their fellows, but the circumstances when this happens are extraordinary, not something you see in day to day living. The vast majority of people who attempt to “Love your neighbor . . .” fail miserably. And if there are really only two important criteria at the top of Jesus’ list, and you fail at one repeatedly, it puts more pressure on you to obey the other. Interesting leverage.

It has been pointed out that “your neighbor” does not just mean any Tom, Dick, or Harry, it meant “other Hebrew.” Just as “thou shall not kill” meant “thou shall not kill other Hebrews.” It was fine if you wanted to off some Samarians or Amalekites. But why love? Consider some possible alternatives:

Respect your neighbor as yourself.
Cherish your neighbor as yourself.
Honor your neighbor as yourself.
Support your neighbor as yourself.
Help your neighbor as yourself.
Why “love” which is an unachievable goal? And why limit it to “neighbors” meaning people in your religious in-group? Why not. . .
Respect all others as yourself.
Cherish all others as yourself.
etc.? Are these supposed to be essential teachings for all of humanity or ways to make your in-group more cohesive?

It also has been pointed out that Jesus taught exactly nothing that had not been taught before. This supports the opinion that the first gospel, from which the others borrowed heavily, was fiction written in support of “Old Testament” theology. There is nothing new about the “New Testament.”

So, when you see people giving away sops like “Yes, Jesus was a profound teacher” ask yourself “Really?” He was not. Nothing he said or did was new, so how can that be profound? I have stopped conceding the Jesus was a real person. The evidence points to Jesus being a fictional character, like all of the other “heavenly” gods.

Consider this one: “As an atheist, I consider many religious scriptures to have many essential teachings. From the peaceful practices of Buddhism to the teachings of Jesus to love one another.” Essential teachings? Really? If you remove the spiritual claptrap, are the teachings to be found in religions any more essential than in, say, philosophy? If you consider that all of the spiritual mumbo-jumbo dilutes the message of those “essential” teachings, I wonder how these are considered “essential” to any other than the religious subscribing to those faiths. The spiritual teachings are always listed first, of course, and the pragmatic teachings that could better lives and really help people survive physically and mentally are usually lacking or missing entirely. Also, when I am taught I always consider the source. I honor my teachers greatly and always look for ways to repay their kindness in sharing their hard-earned knowledge with me. There are, however, bullshit artists galore who sell their “knowledge” to one and all shamelessly and when you ask them how they acquired their knowledge, you get vapor at best. Most of my favorite teachers acquired their profundity through failure and striving to overcome their own faults. Most of them failed far more often that they succeeded at anything. The BS artists will tell you how easy it is to amass a fortune investing in the stock market, or flipping houses, or being saved from a Terrifying Afterlife™. . . , just send a check to PO Box 1693, . . .

Watch out for this tendency to throw sops to the theists, your audience doesn’t need it and you don’t need to prove how “fair” you are.

9 Comments »

  1. I have stopped conceding the Jesus was a real person.

    You REALLY should go visit Gary’s recent post and offer your thoughts related to the above. There’s an individual who has presented “evidence” that you’re mistaken. 😈

    https://lutherwasnotbornagaincom.wordpress.com/2019/08/17/debating-australian-christian-pastor-and-apologist-david-robertson/comment-page-1/#comment-19839

    Like

    Comment by Nan — August 19, 2019 @ 12:56 pm | Reply

    • This is a flaming debate … and I do not want to seek out debate opponents. I merely provide ammunition for those who do! :o)

      All one needs to do is set up a timeline of when things were written and it all kind of falls into place. Even epistles written after the gospels were in circulation didn’t refer to Jesus as an earthly person. And the people who vetted the NT included all of these documents. Apparently they didn’t have all that many who referred to JC as a real person. Jesus “Mythecists” were derided as daft dreamers by al of the people who were taught that Jesus was a real person … but when you look at all of the scriptures honestly, that idea isn’t supported.

      On Mon, Aug 19, 2019 at 12:56 PM Class Warfare Blog wrote:

      >

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by Steve Ruis — August 19, 2019 @ 1:13 pm | Reply

      • But then again … “The Family” is based on his existence. 😉 Or maybe it’s just the IDEA of his existence … ??

        Like

        Comment by Nan — August 19, 2019 @ 1:20 pm | Reply

  2. Always interesting to see theists reactions when they try, and fail, to name something new Jesus said or did.

    Like

    Comment by john zande — August 19, 2019 @ 12:57 pm | Reply

    • I got that from you. Then I did a little research on my own and … you were right! (Shocked, shocked I was!)

      When a character is created specifically to deliver OT wisdom, you can’t have him say much that is new, but you’d have thought that they would come up with one thing, just one little thing … but, no.

      On Mon, Aug 19, 2019 at 12:57 PM Class Warfare Blog wrote:

      >

      Like

      Comment by Steve Ruis — August 19, 2019 @ 1:15 pm | Reply

      • To be honest, there is one thing Jesus did that I can’t find anywhere else: turning the fish into an ATM machine.

        Like

        Comment by john zande — August 19, 2019 @ 1:22 pm | Reply


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