Tuesday, July 7, 2015

In Search of Jesus

I am going through a spiritual crisis. I'm pretty sure that the fact that it coincides with me becoming a vegetarian is no coincidence. I think it's the hormones.

All kidding aside, it's causing me night terrors.

Yesterday I read an article on Flipboard, which I can't find today, about the mythology of Jesus.  The article stated that there is no evidence that Jesus existed other than the Bible, which was edited, revised, stomped on, dragged through many translators and regurgitated by Kings and second-hand accounts.

I almost didn't read the article.  I knew that I wasn't in a place to stand on the faith of the religion I had believed all my life, but I want to know.

According to another article I read today by an author named Jim Walker, called Did a Historical Jesus Really Exist, there is no historical account of Jesus either during His  time or for a generation and more after.  He (the author, not Jesus) makes a good point: someone, somewhere should have heard and written about and the miracles that happened during Jesus' lifetime.  In fact, Walker says that as a matter of fact, no historian, philosopher, scribe or follower wrote about Jesus during his time

Arguments over lack or writing skills, education and an overall  general literary ignorance are dissected and somewhat dismissed.  There were scribes of the day and there are writings. The only known non-Christian writers  wrote what they heard about Jesus  beginning some 37 years after His  death . The rest, Walker argues, were also not eyewitness and got their information from hearsay.

Moreover, it is a well-known fact that the apostles did not actually write any of the books in the Bible at all.  Mr. Walker argues that John, James, Matthew and most of Paul's were second, third or fourth-hand accounts. Even Paul, Walker argues, only wrote eight of the 11 books and never mentions a human Jesus. In fact, Walker says none of them do. (This I have to look up.  It conflicts with my understanding of the Bible.)

Oh, and it gets better.  Walker states that the story of Jesus was similar to many Pagan beliefs of the day: virgin birth, December 25 date, wise men, and sacrifice.

The three following "Proofs that Jesus existed" are not actually proof at all. 
The Shroud of Turin  - carbon dated around 14th century and testing reveals it's more of a painting .
The Burial Box of James - inscription forged.  Artist arrested
Letters of Pontius Pilate - novel created by W.P. Cozier.

All the above "proofs" are revealed to be  fake, but to this day, most adamant Christ-based religious people will not believe the scientific facts.  In fact, if you have ever had an argument with a religious person you know it sometimes sounds as if violence is about to ensue should that topic not be immediately abandoned.  You will not make your point.  Surrender.  (To be fair, the same can be said of some militant atheists, not for this topic, but any in opposition to their core beliefs that there is no God.

Walker's research extends to the historical geographical errors in the bible.  I won't list them here, but they are listed in his blog. 

The article was very long and contained a lot of convincing evidence that no Jesus as we know Jesus existed.

I had a long sleepless night as my faith began to crumble like the Roman Empire.

What if there was  no Jesus?  What would it mean to the human race?  Would the world sink into anarchy?  Sins wouldn't be sins!  No afterlife?  I cringe at the thought of behaviours like pedophilia going unpunished.  Religious wars, political wars, ...all for naught.

My whole life has been based on the belief of a God, of a being who lived as a man and offered himself as a sacrifice to save me. ME!

What if we lived without religion?  What would keep us in check?  Would we keep ourselves in check? Would we be kind with no promised reward? Would there be less war or more?

To be fair, I read a blog by Bart D. Erhman on the Huffington Post Religion site.  He has an opposing opinion.  He admits that the Gospels of the Bible are fraught with biases, problems with detail, with information at odds with each other, and written decades after Jesus' death.  Jesus is not mentioned by any Roman sources of His day  Ehrman's point is whether or not biased sources can be credible.  

According to Ehrman, the writings of Paul are in Jesus' native tongue, Aramaic and can be dated within just a year or two of his life.  Paul obtained his information about Jesus from James, Jesus' brother and Peter, Jesus' closest disciple. Ehrman tried to make a point, weakly, if you don't mind my opinion, that "If Jesus did not exist, you would think his brother would know it."

Ehrman states that there are no accounts of pagan gods who were born to virgin mothers and who died as an atonement for sin and who were raised from the dead.

Jews would not have invented Jesus as he was because no Jews "of any kind, whatsoever, thought there would be future crucified messiah." The Messiah would be a "figure of grandeur and power who overthrew the enemy." Erhman did not mention that Jews do not accept Christ as the Messiah, but he does say that Christians did not invent Jesus, but they did invent that He had to be crucified.

The arguments that Ehrman make are more like unanswered questions. Wouldn't James, Jesus' brother know if Jesus didn't exist?  Why would Christians invent a Messiah in opposition to the Jews' Christ Messiah?

Quite a bit less compelling than Walker's blog.

But....both the blogs raise more questions for me than answers.

Is it so unreasonable to think that Romans didn't write about Jesus because their life depended on not writing about Jesus? Also, it's not so unreasonable that the Romans, the most powerful kingdom on earth at the time, destroyed all discovered accounts of Jesus' life after His death? But that doesn't answer why non-Christian writers didn't write about Jesus, does it?

I had a whimsical thought. What if God sacrificed a man through mythology rather than making a real man die an intolerably cruel death.  Maybe He was too kind to actually put a man through that? What a great idea for a novel.   Don't steal it, it's mine. 

For a religion based solely on faith, is it unreasonable to expect that evidence was removed based on the phrase, all things work for the good of God?  

Or maybe the human race needs a sacrifice to make life worthwhile and to keep it in check?

If you've read to this part, I've been sober for 21 years.  My entire sobriety, the 12 steps, are based upon my belief in a God of my understanding.  Right now, believing that there is no God hurts my stomach...it's disconcerting, devastating. It's sending hot and cold chills up and down my body right now! I expect to have another mentally exhausting night as my mind tosses and turns the information trying to figure out what to believe.

I have a friend who told me that she is starting to believe that when we die ...all there is thunk!  And because she's of Italian descent, her hand gracefully circled the air and lay flat, as flat as we in the grave.

I'll keep searching for evidence that Jesus existed.  Obviously, reading only two blogs, no matter how detailed, could not possibly provide all the information available.  

In the meantime...

I don't know why the thought of dying and then nothing scares the (scares the what, if not Jesus, God or hell?) out of me.

On the other hand, when I look at it this way - if believing in a God, whether there is or isn't one, will keep me sober, I'm willing to do it.  If there isn't, what difference will it make?  If there is one, then at least I behaved as if I did.  

I wonder if that will work?

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