Tuesday, January 24, 2006

ARGUING "PRO JESUS"

November 8, 2004

A Christian recently asked me:

"If you were in a situation to discuss/debate the question of 'Why would one need to consider Christ?' - how would you approach/answer if you were to take the side of the one presenting the view of a Christian?"

I thought this was an excellent question. So here is my response.

***

The basic argument of Christianity is this:

1) Human beings have souls, which (after death) go on to an afterlife.

2) Human beings deserve an afterlife ranging from oblivion to eternal torture (depending on the particular denomination).

3) To get a better afterlife, one must accept Jesus as one's lord and savior.

As a Christian, my first job would be to prove that there is such a thing as a soul. Due to the complete lack of credible evidence of souls, this would appear to be a difficult task. However, it turns out that most people are terrified by the thought of death. As a result, they're desperate to believe that death is not the end. That makes it suprisingly easy (though a dishonest abuse of their fears) to convince them of the existence of souls.

In fact, most Christians feel comfortable simply assuming that 'everyone' already believes in souls, so they skip this step entirely. Unfortunately, they're often right.

My second job would be to prove that humans deserve a less than optimal afterlife experience. Again, there is no credible evidence that this is the case. But again, human nature comes to the rescue. Most people possess a set of instincts called "conscience", but few possess absolute self control. As a result, almost everyone does things they feel guilty about.

To magnify this guilt, I would present them with a mock standard of perfection (Jesus), and harp upon how they fail to meet that standard. It will be necessary to concoct bogus arguments in support of Jesus' actual existence, along with a defense of the Bible as a reliable source of information about him, in order to convince them to take this standard of perfection seriously.

These arguments only need to work well enough to convince the average person on the street. Intellectually armed unbelievers won't be convinced, but as long as most people can, minority rational objections can be rudely dismissed.

All of this is simplified when dealing with extremely gullible perople who take the story of the fall of man in Genesis at face value. In their case, personal guilt isn't even an issue.

Once all this is accomplished, the subject's own inability to attain perfection will force them to accept that they deserve some sort of penalty.

Finally, I would have to prove that accepting Jesus is sufficient to free them from this (actually undeserved) punishment. There is nothing to support this other than the Bible, but since I've already gotten past the task of convincing the subject to believe what the Bible says, no further support is necessary. And viola! Another believer, ripe for the plucking.

So if I "had to" argue pro-Jesus, I would do it exactly the same way Christians do. The only difference is that I would understand what a cynical and manipulative argument it is, and why it works.

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2 Comments:

At 10:30 AM, Blogger AbortGod said...

Not to mention the complete lack of historical evidence of a man called Jesus or any of the other "gods" that were worshipped at the time of his creation, err... intelligent design (sic). You would have to learn how to lie about the birth of your religion. But, that would be a sin now wouldn't it?

 
At 10:55 AM, Blogger Theodore Koppel said...

Goddamn, Mr. Dee, You have brightened my day!

 

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