God – Fact, Fiction or Rumour?
In the times of Jesus Christ
I would say that practically all of us - apart from the Muslim world - know the story of Jesus Christ, from his birth in a stable to his death by crucifixion. The tragedy is that so many accept it as truth without question. A sound basic method of arriving at the likely truth is to pose simple questions and consider all possible answers. In this age of technology, television and information media in general we have a great deal of information and illustration to help us pose questions and find answers in order to put the biblical stories in context.
The parents of Jesus were simple people, and surely living in a stable was far from unheard of, even a hundred years ago, let alone two thousand years ago. Three wise men might have been shepherds, and the star of Bethlehem might simply have been a real astronomical event.
Questioning the Bible
A great deal of the New Testament was written fifty years or more after the death of Jesus Christ. If a history were written even as recently as 1900AD of an ordinary person who had died fifty years previously then practically everything written would likely be seen as supposition or conjecture. Nearly everybody of that period of whom a great deal is known were of major significance in some way – royalty, politicians, inventors or businessmen. If people of the status of Jesus or his parents had lived in the nineteenth or even early twentieth century then little might be known of them beyond their recorded details of birth, marriage and death.
Even stories told of Jesus in his lifetime could have arisen from rumour and exaggeration. If we were to read that a man had lived, performed such miracles, and died fifty years ago it would be treated with extreme scepticism. Why then are these fables still purveyed and accepted?
Science or religion?
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Why do the biblical stories persist?
Most of us, I believe, learned in school about stories of God and Jesus Christ. Thus, the ideas and stories specific to God and Christ are embedded in our minds.
Why are these myths perpetuated as fact when we have the enlightenment and education to help us see the truth? Why cannot people worship simply the idea of Jesus and God? Have they no faith?
Do the teachings of the Bible promote peace and harmony? Wars are fought in the name of God. If the idea of God was to vanish from people’s consciousness then the world could fairly quickly become a more peaceful place.
Why does the Church continue to exhort us to worship God? The answer to this, presumably, is simply that this is what the Church does. I find the actions of the Roman Catholic Church in ordering its followers not to use condoms especially inexplicable and unacceptable. This is specially so in countries where those people are poverty-stricken, and unwanted childbirth adds to their burden. Surely the purpose of the church's instruction should be to enhance people's lives.
I would say the Ten Commandments are almost without exception one of the cornerstones of modern civilisation. That apart, the Bible should be seen and taught as a history book and the beliefs of a simple people.
A better God
I think we could do well to replace the idea of Jesus Christ and God with worship of this great rock – planet Earth - that we all live on. It seems to me to be pretty impressive; it rolls around in space, it gave birth to our species and countless others, and provides a home and sustenance for us. All we have to do is live on it and obey its laws. The Ten Commandments might be pertinent here. Whenever we decide to interfere with planet Earth, we should remind ourselves of just whom we really are – a species of tool-making ape that learned to speak.
© 2012 Peter Ray