Friday, July 1, 2011

What the...?!

I'll take this from a video I saw in class. Many cultures that differ in religion and history usually ends up coming up with the same rules and laws as to what is human rights. A man by the name of John Peters Humphrey later composed this into an actual list, where the U.N. adopted it in 1948.

For governments, this means that they have to set up a list of laws to protect human rights, at least for the wealthy and fortunate. For religions, this too means a list of what is right and wrong. But these are both influenced by the cultures, and what the general populous believes is moral or immoral, based on what they perceive as their own god given rights.

Now, talking about this video. Jesus is seen as a moral teacher and a great man, sure. But I think that there is a reason there are so many denominations in the church. Baptists know that wine is wine, but Catholics truly believe they are drinking God's blood when they take Communion. At the same time, Mormons are seen on the weird end of things due to the fact that they have quite a few polygamists in their community, and while some people wonder about if they even have a bible, Mormons are still considered Christian.

Now, the three (im)moral contributions.

1. Do not resist evil

I can't speak for my church or for my god, but I think what this means is that one should not try and face frivolous evil with a bad remark or a returned slap. For one, what would that prove? If a man is teaching about the love and forgiveness of being a Christian, and someone says "Well, your god is stupid!" is the right thing to get in a fist fight with this person? Of course not.

And this situation was exactly what Jesus meant. He did not mean "Oh, well if people are dying, I guess we shouldn't help them" because that is the opposite of what he taught.

2. Forgiving all sin

When you ask for forgiveness, it's not quite as horrible as he's putting it. To ask for forgiveness of all sins, you must repent. That doesn't just mean saying "Hey god, 'bout that guy I punched, I'm good about it, right?" Because he doesn't forgive something when he knows you're lying. Repenting means to 1. feel morally sorry/guilty about what you have done, 2. asking forgiveness, 3. trying to undo the wrong, 4. never doing it again. So, if you realize what you did, why it was wrong to do it, asking forgiveness from God and from the one you wronged, being forgiven from both, trying to undo the wrong you committed, and then never making the same mistake again, then you are truly forgiven of the sin.

In the event that the person in wrong did not ever feel guilty or sorry, theeeen.... well, what waits them is punishment enough.

3. Loving your neighbor as yourself.

Seriously, he twisted that one too?

It is teaching to consider every life as important as your own or as important as your loved one's. These are our neighbors, the men and women we are in a community with. It doesn't mean to trust them blindly, it means that if they need help, one should help them as though it were us in need. It means to treat them kindly and with respect. Not to spend the night with them or want to be with them, as you would with family or a lover.

Now for the rest of it.

What he taught the Jews was what they needed (Sure, he could have taught everyone, but the Jews were his chose people so blah blah blah). I dunno about you, but I don't like to be led around by the nose, blatantly, and suddenly told that what I was teaching was all wrong.

What did Jesus do?

He was mortal when he died. A man. When he was brought back, after who knows how long in hell, but was 3 days on earth, he was God incarnate.

During his time on earth, he performed miracles. He could have scared the shit out of everyone with terrible visions of Angles, but he didn't. He could have elated himself as king of the world and cure all illness and death and suffering. But he didn't.

This sounds a bit... dogmatic? But I think that when Adam and Eve ate from the apple, God gave the world to us in it's entirety. Meaning it's our choices that dictate how the world ends up. Just because some dude in sandals and in need of a shave says that he's here to steer us in the moral direction, that doesn't mean we suddenly lose our freedom to act as we want. It just means that if we do something bad, we will have to face the consequences (Repenting is one way, but some say that a step in repenting is punishment). It also means that we are given the choice to help our fellow man. If we give what we have to someone less fortunate, doesn't that make us a better moral person? It doesn't mean giving away everything, it means giving what you can.

So many learn this, and learn the story of the woman giving a paltry donation to the church, but they do not realize that it's not just the church who needs funds, it is the world. Instead of putting their bottles of shampoo in garage sales, they can donate them to the homeless and the needy. Instead of wasting gallons of water on a shower or bath, we can try conserving water and electricity to reduce waste and pollution.

Jesus cured the sick and dying, he brought a man from beyond the grave, he made the blind see. Of course, he could have suddenly gave us a bottle and shown us how to create antibiotics, or given us the cure for cancer or the common cold, but in my mind, it's better that he didn't. Such acts I think should be reserved for humanity. Wasn't it considered a triumph that a human was able to bottle up something that could suddenly turn a deadly sickness into a cure? Would that have still been such a momentous achievement if God simply handed it over? Would we have even deserved it? It was by the goodness of that one scientist that he didn't bottle it to sell at an extravagant price to the wealthy. He gave it to those in need. Wasn't this an act of kindness and just as great?

I guess I don't understand this video.



I can see how this man put a lot of thought into this video. He did some research.

But it wasn't enough to uproot my own faith. It was only enough for him to feel more justified in his own beliefs.

So what did this man accomplish?

A video tearing apart (and not very well) a 2000 year old religion. But he could have been doing more for humanity with his time. (I mean, it's not like those starving children can eat his words)


  1. Being fair...they can't eat Bibles either. >>

    I think this highlights a debate that's going on in the atheist community right now: is it getting anyone anywhere when one side is pointing out only the good things about religion, and the other side is pointing out only how ridiculous its ideas are? It's just back-and-forth he-said-she-said at the minute.

  2. I think he is making the case that Jesus wasn't divine. However, I can understand why his words would not uproot your faith. After all, many liberal Christians do not believe Jesus was divine or perfect.

    I find myself more interested in the fact that Christians tend not to live up to the best of Christ's teachings. Few really turn the other cheek for another blow or give double to the man who sues them. Likewise, not every Christian repents. Too many in my experience just say they are sorry but never change.

    But let you think I am picking on Christians, let me assure you I am not. Atheists do the same thing at times - not living up to the values we claim to hold. And it seems that sometimes we are way more interested in arguing about something than in learning from it and changing our behavior.

    Just proving that, once again, we are all far more alike than we are different.

  3. Jesus wasn't really "divine" until he died. After he came back, he was truly part of god and no longer mortal. Before that, he was sinless... until he died. Then all the world's sins came crushing down and he spent three days (which could have felt more like three centuries) in hell.

    The point this gent was making was that Jesus' moral teachings weren't original, and his original teachings weren't moral. But he took the unmoral teachings out of context, singling them out, and then the unoriginal moral teachings... well, of course they were unoriginal. I started out saying that people tend to develop similar moral rights and such, it's not like anyone is going to say anything new.

  4. I think on the point of morality, we as people have grown and developed to recognise what is right and wrong, and the contexts with which to practice them. We know neglecting our fellow man is bad and helping them within our realms of capability is the least we can do. We know integration is better for society than segregation because the latter is often a powderkeg for conflict.

    I think that perhaps a better point the video could put across is that a lot of people don't need to follow Jesus as a morality leader as we are capable in ourselves to recognise what is good or not. I'll admit there are some bits of the video where it did stretch analogies a little thinly and he did come across as quite unapologetically aggressive, but overall, I think that's the message we can take from the video - we don't need to look to a higher being for morality when we know ourselves what it means to be good.