- Religion and Philosophy
According to Jesus himself we shall know Christians by the fruit that they produce. In this sense fruit is figurative, he's talking about the results of their actions and words, the effect that they have and things that they do. The Bible specifies quite a few things that Christians are supposed to be able to do and it's these fruits that we are to "know" them by. Looking at the Bible however many of these attributes read like a list of superpowers rather than characteristics one would expect to accompany religious devotion.
The point of this hub is to show that either most Christians aren't at all Christians or that Christianity itself does not produce any supernatural results (mostly the second one :) )
The Gospels say that the disciples around Jesus performed many miracles themselves both during his life and afterward. They too went out and healed folks and cast out evil spirits. According to Jesus Christians are meant to be able to do more, they are even supposed to be able to raise the dead and move mountains with a small fraction of faith. Whether moving mountains is to be taken literally is open for debate however it is clear from the story that Jesus really meant what he said about them raising the dead.
There are two billion+ Christians on the planet and while it is true that every so often you hear an anecdotal story about a resurrection one would think that it would be far more common AND would be something easily documented by science. Yet there is not one instance of science actually verifying a Christian's ability to raise the dead - all we get are stories.
In some sense it seems Christians are a lot like Jedi in the Star Wars Universe, the further back into history you go the more powerful they seem. Old Obi-Wan could barely hold his own against Darth Vader, their sword fight was pitiful compared to the one young Obi-Wan had against Vader on Mustafar twenty years prior. Yep, early Christians were far more legendary, Saints were able to slay dragons and perform all sorts of wild miracles but now-a-days the best we seem to get is Mother Mary on a slice of toast.
Two Billion Christians and yet we don't see many of them performing miracles of any kind. You do get the anecdotes about how they prayed for one of their loved ones and voila their cancer went into remission or their surgery went well, etc. But you don't hear of any documented, verified, or truly magical cases.
In many ways Christ's miracles were meant to foster faith in the people that saw him. Jesus himself remarks that for those in later ages it will be harder to believe because they will not see him for themselves. They are meant, however, to do all sorts of supernatural wonders and miracles in the name of Jesus. I have to admit that if such miracles were demonstrably real it would certainly make Christianity seem more compelling. Indeed if even one percent of Christians could perform real verifiable resurrections or healings that defied scientific explanation I would be forced to convert. Instead we see anecdotes and stories of isolated incidents, we see legend and word-of-mouth, oral tradition and a total lack of evidence.
The more mundane result that Christianity is meant to produce is that of moral goodness. Jesus has quite a few excellent pieces of moral advice, such as telling Christians to love thy neighbor. Jesus also fosters tolerance in quite a few cases, such as the story of the Good Samaritan and in his own personal associations with tax collectors and harlots. Jesus wasn't afraid to hang out with his fan-base regardless of their social class or occupation however sordid it might be. So we would expect to see his followers be FAR more moral, far more gracious, and far more loving.
It should be obvious that we do not see Christians being better people than everyone else. There are good moral Christians and there are bad Christians. This problem might stem from the fact that few Christians follow their savior's moral advice. More likely it is because people are not going to change just because some book says so, they have to want to change themselves. This is why there are no miraculous moral 180s in Christianity. Even people leaving behind drugs for Jesus are merely using religiosity as a motivator to do this for themselves.
We do not see a massive increase in morality from Christians. Most Christians I've known have been ordinary people who draw their morality from parents and the people around them and from experience far more than from the dusty pages of the Bible. Thankfully Christians do not delve too deeply into Old Testament law (even Jews don't follow it) because if they did the world would be a distinctly LESS moral place.
So if two billion Christians on this planet show no marked improvement of morality or behavior why is it that the term Good Christian is so prevalent in our society. Whenever they want to establish the moral report and honesty of an individual they describe them as a good church-going Christian or as a Salt of the Earth type person. These are both Christian images. The implication is that people who are not Christian are not as moral, that an atheist, Hindu or Jew doesn't have the same moral virtues as a Christian - such as honesty, loyalty, compassion, etc. I find this implication to be offensive and obviously untrue, one does not need to be Christian to be moral and Christians are not more moral than most other groups.
Christians following Christ
How many Christians honestly follow Christ's teachings? How many rich Christians give their money to the poor and follow Christ to avoid having to struggle like a camel passing through the eye of a needle? How many Christians shun public prayer in favor of praying only in secret? How many Christans can honestly say they love Christ MORE than their family members.
One of the common hypocrisies heaped upon Christians is that of judgment, for Jesus says they are NOT to judge others. Yet how often do we see Christians casting judgment not just on people outside the Church but even on members within it. Now I have no issue with an organization policing it's own and scripture does say to watch out for false prophets but Jesus is also pretty specific about not judging others as well. Turning the other cheek is another one.
Osama Bin Laden, terrorist and mass murderer, was killed by US forces about a month ago and the outcry of positive emotion from Christians instantly got on my nerves. Jesus said love thy enemies, and turn the other cheek, he didn't say celebrate when they were assassinated. I'm not the only atheist to point this out and I know some Christians probably realized it as well.
I don't expect Christians to be perfect in following Christ's words but from what I've seen very few of them even attempt to follow Christ in any real way.
So what conclusion can we draw from the fact that Christians do not bear fruit according to what the Bible says? Can we conclude that most Christians are not Christians at all or do not have the faith required to complete these tasks? Or is it something bigger? Is Christianity simply NOT TRUE in the supernatural sense. And what of the moral sense? Are Christians simply not living up to their Savior's commands? Why are they praying in public? Why are they lusting after women just as much as they rest of us? Why aren't they loving their enemies? Why do some own guns for self-defense when they are meant to turn the other cheek?
We don't see the fruit Christians are meant to bear. Instead we see just more human beings trying to make their way in the world. For an atheist such as myself this makes perfect sense, since there are no supernatural abilities or magical moral assistance, there's just us on a pale blue dot spinning around a medium sized star. The supernatural can be a tempting answer and a comforting cover for uncomfortable truths but in the end we don't need it and the world is slowly waking up to that fact.