While I’m on the subject…
I’ve always found it odd that the primary virtue in Christianity is belief. Credulity. Not intellect or moral actions, but ability to indefinitely exist in a state of ignorance without complaining. Those other things may be important, but without believing this particular story, without eliminating all doubt, no eternal bliss for you!
But belief is only a temporary measure, something only necessary until proof can be displayed. In any other context, what would we think of someone who insisted rather forcefully on the need for you to trust him, but seemed determined to string you along indefinitely?
1) You’re walking along, minding your own business, when some dude comes up to you with his hand outstretched, which seems to be clenched around an object.
“Hey, buddy! Look here! See my hand? In it, I have a key to a storage facility that’s packed to bursting with treasure beyond your wildest dreams. Anything you’ve ever wanted, it’s in there! Now – do you believe me? Because I want to give it to you! That’s right, I want you to have it, but only if you believe what I’m telling you! No, you can’t see the key or the storage facility first; you just have to trust me! Because if you don’t – well, I’m going to have to throw you in jail, where you’ll be tortured horribly every day for the rest of your life. So, whaddaya say?”
2) The fear of death. Something that’s plagued people all throughout history, from Neanderthals to moderns. We have a man in Jesus who claims to have the answer to this; a guarantee that we don’t really die, that we’ll be reunited with all those we loved in everlasting bliss – as long as we believe in him. What would we think of a scientist who claimed to have a cure for cancer – assuming we had very good cause to believe him – but refused to prove it, and refused to share it with anyone unless they swore a personal loyalty oath to him? Or, not only that, but what if he threatened to somehow give cancer to anyone who refused? Is that the ne plus ultra of morality? And what does it say that our sense of morality today is so far beyond the one expressed in the Bible? Doesn’t that illuminate the provincial mindset of that day and age, limited by their place in history? Is that consistent with an omniscient deity?