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We can begin by noting that Christianity begins pre-rejected as it is a heretical sect of Orthodox Judaism. It shares the strict belief in the literal truth of the Book of Genesis, and Jesus in several places indicates that he personally believes that its myths are actual truths, commanding his followers:

Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.
Matthew 5:17-18
The law here is clearly the Law of the Old Testament. Jesus thereby endorses slavery, marriage by rape, the possession of many women, the killing of innocent people as witches, the stoning of adulterers and unbelievers18, wars against non-Jewish tribes and their subsequent extermination, looting, and enslavement.

Lest we in any way miss his approval, remember that:

And after six days Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart, And was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light. And, behold, there appeared unto them Moses and Elias talking with him.
Matthew 17:1-3

Jesus could have selected anyone from all of space and time to appear on the mountain with him, as time is not a barrier for a transcendent Deity. He could have selected Ghandi, or Mother Teresa, Rumi, Buddha, Muhammed. He could have selected me - I'm not such a bad guy. Who did he choose? He chose Jewish Patriarchs, who were the basis of the Jewish religion. Note well that this is the same Moses who commanded his troops to slaughter the male children right down to babies in arms, all of the women that they didn't want, and keep the rest of the women to use as slaves as they willed. Note that the virginity requirement was clearly arbitrary and optional - can you imagine them holding a ``virginity check'' out there in the midst of a genocidal abbatoir, holding women down one at a time and poking a finger into her to see if she was still a virgin, sending her off to be cleaned up for rape later that night if she was and slashing her throat or gutting her if she wasn't?

I can't. I imagine that (assuming that anything like this scene every actually occurred) the soldiers did what soldiers ever do when their brutality is given free rein, and killed all the ugly ones and kept the pretty ones for themselves, virgin or not. God knows they wouldn't be virgin for long either way.

The point is that Jesus had plenty of better choices for people to invite to his transfiguration; he was making an endorsement statement by selecting Moses in favor of somebody that actually opposed genocide, femicide, infanticide, slavery, rape and robbery, all prominently featured in Numbers 31. We are therefore quite safe in saying the Jesus must have believed in the literal truth of the Old Testament and the divine approval of Moses in particular - he was a Jew, after all, and in fact only dealth with Gentiles at all under duress.

In spite of the Council of Nicaea's successful effort to suppress Arianism and other heresies (so that Christianity could become the state religion of the bloody-handed Roman Empire and thereby be spread by Imperial edict to the four corners of the globe), Trinitarianism makes no sense at all and directly contradicts the theorem above. Even though one can certainly find some passages in the Old and New Testaments and other theistic writings of Judaism and Christianity that suggest a transcendental God that is the Universe, most of them are quite dualistic or worse. Trinitarianism asserts four or more levels of Deity - God the creator, hairy thunderer; God the son, sort-of-human; God the holy spirit - the only vision of the three that might be in agreement with the theorem, providing that all of the Universe is in fact the substance of the holy spirit, an assertion that is not commonly made. In general, in fact, humans and the material world are a fourth realm, and heaven and hell and the angels and demons constitute a fifth and a sixth, with God distinct from all of them and all of them distinct from each other.

It is an absurd cosmology and theistic worldview, where God literally creates his own opponents (knowing of course that He will Prevail in the End, given that it is His hand that holds both Joe and the Cobra Commander and the gasoline and grill are always handy).

However, it is useful to point out that the New Testament is far from consistent on what it presents as the actual beliefs of Jesus concerning God:

And when he was gone forth into the way, there came one running, and kneeled to him, and asked him, Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life? And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God.
Mark 10:17-18
Jesus openly states in this passage that he is not God, and furthermore, that he is not good! It sounds like it is Jesus's belief that he is just a man. Or consider:
And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come.
Matthew 12:32
Again, it sounds very much like Jesus is openly acknowledging that he is not God (how could blaspheming against God be forgiven) - the Holy Spirit is the only real vision of God. This verse, mind you, is in all three Synoptic Gospels and is in the rejected Gospel of Thomas (a collection of the sayings of Jesus that was rejected at Nicaea as being openly non-trinitarian):
Jesus said, "Whoever blasphemes against the Father will be forgiven, and whoever blasphemes against the son will be forgiven, but whoever blasphemes against the holy spirit will not be forgiven, either on earth or in heaven."
Thomas 44
That's four times this is cited as one of the sayings of Jesus by a supposed Apostle. Note well that the last one - which I find personally the most plausible - has Jesus acknowledging that neither he nor the prevailing view of God as the Father and Creator are correct visions of God, so that speaking out against them is easily forgivable. It is only God as the Holy Spirit that pervades all things, God the Universal, that matters.

So it might well be that once you strip off all of the obvious mythology, the miracles, the self-aggrandizement, the endorsements of the barbaric laws of a bloodthirsty semi-nomadic tribe developed in the middle of the Bronze Age when life was hard and it was enslave or be enslaved by every competing tribe, there is a tiny core of genuine insight illuminating this mythicized human who may or may not have ever existed - the myth has long since obscured the man. Jesus himself may have had the insight that for God to be God, God must be everything, the very spirit that sustains all things.

And what is that spirit? In its most abstract, it is information, of course. John is easily the most mystical of the Gospels, and what does it tell us:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
John 1:1
Sure, John probably means that Jesus is ``the Word'', sure he is still trapped by thinking in time and of creation and beginnings, but still, as a metaphor (and it is surely that regardless) this can easily be interpreted as: ``The Universe is all of its information (the Word) is God''.

We must give Christianity low marks overall as being non-compliant with the theorem above, but allow for the fact that it is so internally inconsistent that in places it can at least be interpreted as being compliant. It is interesting that whenever I encounter a non-literalist Christian, someone who doesn't believe in the literal truth of Genesis, for example, the overall pattern of their conception of God is often in far better agreement with the theorem than the texts that underlie their supposed theism allow. They indeed worship the holy spirit far more than the hairy thunderer/creator or even the tortured son/redeemer. It is the feeling of communion with all things, the reconciliation of the pain of their existence with a greater thing that transcends their short lives, that matters to them. Even Jesus as the redeemer stands as a symbol of hope that there is meaning to their lives, that this ``isn't all that there is''.

If one generously interprets this as the profound hope that the actual Universe is God as an open set, that within its infinite vastness ``all things are possible'' (that aren't overtly contradictory, of course), then their beliefs are not inconsistent with the theorem above, which allows for an infinite God to be an exemplar of Hilbert's Grand Hotel19, a place that always has room to stay for the night, a place where - although no one can bring cigars into the Hotel (in fact, it isn't clear that the Hotel has an outside to bring cigars in from), there is always a freshly rolled cigar waiting for you in your room when you arrive.

next up previous contents
Next: Islam Up: Theistic Models Previous: Buddhism   Contents
Robert G. Brown 2014-02-06