- Religion and Philosophy
Faith, Salvation and Armageddon
The following hub is going to be a bit of a hodge-podge. A few things regarding Christianity and religious thinking have been boiling in my brain of late but due to a hectic work-schedule I haven't had quite the time I used to for hubpages or putting these sorts of things on (digital) paper.
So without further ado I present Faith, Salvation, Armageddon and Weight Loss Programs.
Faith, Prayer and the Placebo Effect
Recently when watching a television show (something I do less and less these days thanks to commercials) I saw a commercial for the popular weight loss program Weight Watchers. In the commercial a series of spokespersons talk about how helpful the program has been to their weight loss goals couched in the new slogan – Believe, because it works. Immediately this jumped out to me and I chuckled to myself. Here is a dieting program that holds itself to a HIGHER standard than those who espouse faith in God and his power to answer prayer.
See faith is the opposite of believing BECAUSE it works. Faith claims that it works BECAUSE you believe. This statement, it works because you believe, sounds an awful lot like a paraphrased description of the placebo effect. The Bible claims that Faith is the evidence of things not seen, in other words you have to have faith in order for it to work, it's ALL about belief. There are many Christians who will readily admit to this definition of faith.
When prayer fails to produce results there are many excuses that Christians use to explain away the unreliability of prayer but chief amongst them is, “my faith wasn't strong enough”. Back when I was a teenager and a believer I prayed hard constantly for God to cleanse me and take away my sinful lusting heart. I spent a lot of my time fantasizing and thinking about girls, I wanted God to get rid of all my sexual thoughts, to help me suppress them so that I wouldn't go to Hell. No matter how hard I believed and prayed God never answered my prayer, I would wake up the next morning still a horny teenager. The excuse I used was that I didn't believe hard enough, I didn't have enough faith, that part of me wanted to sin.
In this view of prayer God is beholden to our level of belief and conviction, if you have enough unwavering faith God will answer your prayer. If you believe it works – the placebo effect epitomized. Weight Watchers has it right, they understand that reality does not take a back seat to what we believe, that the laws of physics and nature cannot be suspended in our favor based on belief. Don't just believe... believe ONLY if it works, and believe BECAUSE it works. This is the difference between the kind of faith believers have and the sort of faith they constantly accuse us atheists of having.
The countless times that I've been told that I have faith because, “I trust my car will start in the morning” or even “I have faith the sun will rise in the morning”, etc. It's not the same kind of faith. I trust that those things will happen based on prior knowledge, experience and information. I believe for a reason. What is the reason most theists believe? Their parents taught them to believe... or they had a strange personal experience... Most people who believe in God don't do so due to the established reliability of God, faith, etc because there is no established reliability.
Believe, because it works
One of the fundamental questions that Christianity seems to leave unanswered is one I have posed many times before. Just WHO or WHAT is Christ offering us salvation from AND in what way and form do we receive that salvation. The answers are quite varied but I have yet to encounter any which definitively answer the question in a satisfying way.
Recently when I was thinking about the question I thought of asking it in a more roundabout way by asking theists what they believed was wrong with the world today. In other words what does today's world need salvation FROM and then follow up with asking how Jesus is going to save the world from whatever it is they answered in the first place.
Perhaps, for example, they will answer that the world needs salvation from the homosexual agenda, or from poverty, or from disease, or from war and conflict. Maybe a Christian will claim that the world should be peaceful, that it should be healthy and that everyone should have what they need.
If Jesus DID save humanity, if his mission were a success, would the world not be prosperous, peaceful and healthy? I think most Christians will agree with me that while the world has made some progress in the last few centuries it is still an overwhelmingly cruel and difficult place to live especially for those living in third world countries. So what exactly did Jesus' sacrifice buy us? The forgiveness of sins, I imagine them answering, the chance at eternal life and to not be damned when this world passes away with all its suffering, sin and evil. But if Jesus came to put an end to sin, if the moment his spirit left his body and the cloth in the temple was torn in two was the moment that all sin was forgiven why is the world STILL under the CURSE that Yahweh put it under in Genesis?
Why is the world STILL fallen IF Jesus came to redeem mankind? Shouldn't we see an almost paradisaical improvement beginning immediately after Jesus' death? Instead the world appears to have gone on relatively unchanged after Jesus' supposed sacrifice. Sin continued right along and the world remained corrupt despite the claim that Jesus sacrifice covers past, present and future transgressions of all mankind. The very religion that was based upon Jesus' teachings ended up horribly corrupt, torturing, stagnating progress, going on bloody genocidal crusades and forcing conversions at the end of a sword. So where is Jesus' salvation?
In the version of Christianity I was taught as a child Jesus' true Salvation, if it can be laughably called that, does not arrive until the end of time. Jesus returns and essentially lays down the law, meaning that he slaughters the followers of the Beast and then judges all of humanity before allotting most of them to the Lake of Fire. So Jesus' plan apparently isn't to bring forgiveness to all mankind in one sweeping gesture of selflessness, it is, instead, to wait until the end of time and bring fiery vengeance upon anyone who doesn't accept that “sacrifice”.
When you view the story of Jesus in the full light of scripture the idea of Jesus as a Savior breaks down entirely. Oh sure he manages to save the tiny percentage of mankind that makes it into Heaven but he and his vengeful angels kill pretty much everyone in the book of Revelations.
Does Jesus do anything heroic? Is he swooping down to rescue those in danger as we speak? What Salvation is he offering? If the Bible is to be believed Jesus' “salvation” will damn far more than it will save. If you are a believer feel free to answer the question, “What is Jesus saving people FROM?”
When Jesus himself is the true threat to the destiny of your immortal soul it begs the question of why you need salvation from anyone other than Christ. In fact the most logical answer to "What does Jesus save you from?" is "His own wrath." which makes the supposed sacrifice of Jesus even more pointless and contrived.
No real conclusion to draw here as these are two different little tidbits from my brain. Hope you enjoyed – leave comments and thoughts below :)