God is perfect, therefore is perfectly just and benevolent (good-natured). God's chosen actions are always the best chosen actions possible. God's plan of salvation in order to get people into Heaven is the best plan, and, is perfectly just. These sentiments are eternally true, for all time. So is it not odd that, in a particular year on planet Earth (after billions of years of existence), we think that God had to do something in order to improve the rate of salvation of Human beings? A perfect God can, and will, judge people in an adequate manner whether or not Jesus was crucified by the Romans.
God is all-powerful and just and therefore always judges people in the best way, according to the most fair criteria. God judges a person who lived in 100BCE in a perfect manner, because God is perfect. God also judges a person who lived after the crucifixion, in 100CE for example, also in a perfect manner. It seems odd to say that such a perfect God would have to sacrifice its son in between the lives of these two people, in order to implement his plan of salvation. This is one of the great problems with having mythology at the core of a religion: at the end of the day, there appears to be no rational reason behind some of the key concepts of that religion.
In other words, the point of the crucifixion was not to empower God or increase its ability to judge people and allow them into heaven.
That 'Jesus died for our sins' in a central theme of most of the New Testament, becoming a more symbolic, dramatic and haughty statement as the decades went on. For example by the time of 80-100CE when the pseudepigraphic Epistle to the Ephesians was written, the matter of Jesus' sacrifice could be described in long and flowery phrases (e.g. Ephesians 1:7).
It means of course that the core Christian belief is that without the crucifixion salvation would be impossible. However this calls into question the ability of God to judge people fairly before the time of Jesus - Moses, Abraham and Lot, for example, all appear to have been judged without the crucifixion.
God makes the rules of the Universe. Adam and Eve sinned: We suffer for it. This is God's rule. He then creates a Son, lets it be murdered in a brutal way, so that we no longer suffer the Original Sin. It would have been much more logical if God simply never allowed us to inherit the sins of Adam and Eve. God makes the rules... then creates more suffering (of Jesus) in order to repeal one of his own rules? It is a contradiction, and a moral absurdity, and therefore can't be true of a perfect, moral or just God.
An analogy can be used to explain the fall of man and the salvation offered by God's plan for Jesus1. Each successive part of the story is less moral than the version before it:
You have slipped, and are hanging from a mountain ledge. A man sees your predicament and pulls you to safety, away from the certain death that awaits you below.
The next version introduces the idea that you have to 'accept' Jesus as your saviour before God will save you:
You have slipped, and are hanging from a mountain ledge. A man sees your predicament and tells you he can save you, if you admit Him as your savior. When you do, He pulls you to safety, away from the certain death that awaits you below.
The next version introduces the idea that God created the system of original sin ('the fall') in the first place, and makes us subject to it:
You're on a mountain ledge, when the man pushes you off. You have no chance except to grab onto the ledge. He tells you he can save you, if you admit Him as your savior. When you do, He pulls you to safety, away from the certain death that awaits you below.
And the final story of Christian salvation introduces the idea of the crucifixion of Jesus to atone for our sins:
You're on a mountain ledge, when the man pushes you off. You have no chance except to grab onto the ledge. The man is holding baby Jesus in his arms. He tells you he can save you, if you admit Him as your savior. When you do, the man throws the child over the edge so he can then pull you to safety, away from the certain death that awaits you below.
There is no reason to throw the child over the cliff in order to save mankind. None at all... God can just save us, even if its son never existed. Some argue that it was necessary because of the laws of the Universe, that a sacrifice had to be made. However... who made the laws of the Universe? God! Jerome Luther, who provided the original inspiration for the analogy above, continues:
“They call God´s act the ultimate sacrifice. Indeed, he seems to have sacrificed his own morals. He killed his own son, in cold blood, when he could have done otherwise. He created us, sentenced us to hell, hung a weight of guilt about his son over our shoulders, and then told us he would save us if we bowed down before him.
Now all we have to do is take his hand. If we grasp his hand, we will be raised up high to live among the elite, to live in ecstasy until the end of time. If we refuse it, we will fall, and live a tortured existence beyond our worst imaginings.
There is only one sane answer, one obvious choice we must make: let go, and face the consequences.”
Submitting to such a monstrous scheme is to condone its immorality, to sacrifice our morals too, along with our dignity. We are granted knowledge between good and evil... and I know an evil scheme when I see one! If I am a selfish person, I would do anything to attain heaven... but if I am a moral person, I cannot accept God's scheme as portrayed by Christian beliefs. A more sensible alternative is to admit that there is no God at all.
“If God wanted to forgive our sins, why not just forgive them, without having himself tortured and executed in payment - thereby, incidentally, condemning remote future generations of Jews to pogroms and persecution as 'Christ-killers' [...].
Progressive ethicists today find it hard to defend any kind of retributive theory of punishment, let alone the scapegoat theory - executing an innocent to pay for the sins of the guilty. In any case (one can't help wondering), who was God trying to impress? Presumably himself - judge and jury as well as execution victim. To cap it all, Adam, the supposed perpetrator of the original sin, never existed in the first place: an awkward fact [...] which fundamentally undermines the premise of the whole tortuously nasty theory. Oh, but of course, the story of Adam and Eve was only ever symbolic, wasn't it? Symbolic? So, in order to impress himself, Jesus had himself tortured and executed, in vicarious punishment for a symbolic sin committed by a non-existent individual? As I said, barking mad, as well as viciously unpleasant.”
It is said that the crucifixion allowed God to fully embrace us and suffer. However, as an omniscient being he can imagine any amount of suffering that we might endure, and more. He can know and understand our pain better than we can, Jesus could not have showed or experienced suffering that God couldn't already have known about. Before we existed God had the foresight to understand our emotions completely and understand our suffering completely. The crucifixion taught God nothing that it did not already know.
Some Christians argue that the point of the crucifixion was that it led to 'everyone' knowing about Jesus. If the crucifixion did not occur, then no-one would know Jesus. Some believe that in order to be accepted by God into heaven, then, you have to have accepted Jesus and clearly this is only possible if you actually know anything about Jesus. Those who argue that the point of the Crucifixion was that we all know about him are following this line of argument.
Before the birth and death of Jesus, no-one knew of Jesus. This means that God, before that time, kept everyone in the dark. If knowing Jesus is better than not knowing of him, then God in effect punished everyone simply because they lived before the time of Jesus. This is of course an unacceptable conclusion: Christians will not accept it. Some argue that it is not a punishment that people did not know Jesus. If that was true, our assumption that it is better to know Jesus is wrong, and it is neither good nor bad to know Jesus.
A judge is judging 26 people. Each person is called one of the 26 letters of the alphabet. The Judge has infinite money and is free to give away money to anyone. If he wants he can give it to people who do not deserve it. If the Judge gives 23 of the people £1234 pounds (he hasn't converted to Euro yet, it must be a British judge) and gives the other three £999 pounds, then we all conclude that the Judge has punished those three people for some reason. If we find out that the reason is purely arbitrary, for example, he only gives £1234 to people whose name is a letter before 'X', then we conclude that an injustice has been done. No-one would deny that for some reason God has punished some of those people.
Therefore, if it is important to 'know' Jesus, then God is actually punishing people who do not happen to know about Jesus. God makes the rules of the Christian world: God has made the rule that there are benefits to knowing Jesus. But there is a clear argument that if God is good, it would not do this. This means that:
1) I have debated with Christians who have held that everyone knows Jesus but that some people reject him (although this seems impossible, let's grant it as a given for now). Therefore those before 0ce are in the same boat as everyone afterwards. This appears to then invalidate the crucifixion. It means the death of Christ was not necessary, if everyone before and after this happened can know Jesus. It implies that everyone can know Jesus even if the crucifixion did not happen. This means that the need to know Jesus is not a valid justification of the crucifixion. Additionally if you believe that people can know Jesus just through revelation from God, then it becomes apparent that Evangelical Christianity as a religion is pointless.
2) The other possibility was that people before 0ce were granted the benefits of knowing Jesus, because the crucifixion hadn't happened yet there was no chance for anyone to reject Jesus, and therefore reject the benefits that come with knowing Jesus. However if it is possible for God to grant the benefits of knowing Jesus to people, without them actually knowing Jesus, then He could very easily grant these benefits to all people for all time: This means that the crucifixion was not necessary in order for people to have the benefits of knowing Jesus.
3) It is clear then, that the benefits of knowing Jesus cannot be the point of the crucifixion. If there are benefits to knowing Jesus then God is immoral for punishing those before 0ce who did not know Jesus. Our conclusions are that the point of the crucifixion was not so that we would know Jesus or that there are no benefits to knowing Jesus.
At any time, God can re-create the body of Jesus, and do it all again. Just because a bundle of divinely inspired atoms was deanimated does not signify a great theological event, but more like a public relations one. The only actual purpose of the crucifixion must have been for the effects it had on us, rather than on God. It led to the foundation of the Christian Church (albeit with a lot of inference of the part of Paul). It therefore led to a lot of conversions and pro-God sentiment.
All the pretence, drama and zest of those writing about the crucifixion are merely acting out their own roles in the great drama act of the crucifixion - which in reality was a facade. God feels every piece of suffering that every person ever feels - the crucifixion of Jesus was nothing, a mere gesture.
This and other such emotional commentary about the crucifixion doesn't ring true when you consider that God did not need the crucifixion for any other reason than public relations. God can place Jesus on Earth at any time - God did not sacrifice or harm Jesus. Jesus is not gone, harmed and does not suffer as a result of His crucifixion. There is no suffering in heaven. Jesus suffered as a man, according to Christianity, yes, but this is nothing compared to how much suffering God can experience with his infinite knowledge and infinite empathy.
It is said that Jesus had to love us beyond measure to give Himself willingly to die for our sins. But... God can judge us and we can know God with or without Jesus. Jesus had to love us to commit suicide and sacrifice Himself? The emotion is not that great. Love is, for sure, stronger than hate. Yet out of hatred alone Human Beings kill themselves. Suicide bombers and self sacrificing terrorists commit suicide out of hate. Jesus' own sacrifice was no great feat of emotion. He became a martyr, for sure, but this required only as much courage as a terrorist suicide bomber, of which there are many amongst normal (non-Godly) humans. In that light, and in the light of the public relations revelation, the sacrifice by God does not seem so great, and the love of us by Jesus does not seem so worthy.
If Jesus loved us, why did he not survive and learn to write, then write His own Bible instead of other people writing it many years afterwards? It seems that if Jesus loved us that much, He would have wrote down a book Himself without the chance of any Human errors.
On the cross, it is written that Jesus said "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do". However something that Jesus knows full well is that God is omniscient. Jesus only has to think "forgive them" and God knows he thought it. He doesn't have to say it. Also, God also must know that "they know not what they do". Jesus doesn't need to give God a reminder! Jesus must have said those things for us, not for God, as God already knew it and Jesus knew that God knew. Jesus' words to God were actually public relations, for us to hear.
“There lived a very powerful and wealthy man, so rich he could buy the whole world if he wanted to. Now this very man happens to be a bachelor and wanted to get married. He falls in love with a very beautiful lady. He loved her so much he could die for her should it be needed. But unfortunately for him, he is not sure if the lady loves him back. With all his powers, the rich man can force the Lady to marry and live with him forever if he wants to. With all his riches the man can command the lady to do anything he wants her to just because he is stinky rich. Surprisingly enough, the rich man puts his riches aside and approaches the lady disguised as a poor man deeply in love with her.”
This story is used to explain why God created evil. The theory is that God wants people to have free will, so it invents evil. People then can "choose" evil instead of God. But it makes no sense.
For a start, God has free will and cannot choose evil. God is in heaven: There is no evil in heaven, no temptation, and everything is perfect and happy. If there is free will in heaven, then it makes no sense to say that evil is required for free will on Earth. The story fails to explain why God created evil.
To die for her
God cannot die. To pretend to die is moral blackmail. It is nonsensical that God "isn't sure" if she will love it back. God knows everything. God knows every choice that will be made; it exists outside of time and can see the future with perfect clarity, as if it was the past. To say that god "isn't sure" is the same as saying that God is not all-knowing or all-powerful. God created the "beautiful lady" and gave her all of her personality and characteristics. God knows perfectly well what choices she will make; and God created her mind knowing exactly and specifically what actions would result from it. If God didn't want her to love him "because he is stinky rich" then God simply would not have created her Human mind as the type that loves riches. It was God's choice to create people who fall in love with riches. It makes no sense to say that God created Humans with a predisposition to love riches, but also that God doesn't want to be loved for that reason. According to this tale, a good God would create people to fall in love with people for spiritual reasons, not material ones. If God didn't do this, then God is either not good, or there is no god.
The rich man puts his riches aside
"and approaches as a poor man deeply in love with her". God is in complete control and knows the results of every action. God knows exactly what subtle body language, words and nuances will make the lady love it. If God does these things, then the lady is made to love God. God is still in complete control. God's infinite knowledge amounts to a complete ability to psychologically manipulate people: If the lady loves God, for whatever reason, then God has forced her to by conspiring to create the lady with a destiny of love for itself. There is simply no way for anything in life to occur that is not created by God as the result of God's will and action. It makes no sense to say that God "tries" to make people love it: God can't "try" and fail, it can only ever try and succeed, as god is perfect and all-powerful.
The final point is about God "falling in love". An eternal God, beyond time, needs nothing at all. It doesn't have wants because it is a perfect being. It lacks nothing. It can never be improved, because it is already perfect. God knows every possible experience; it cannot "fall in love", as God is love. If love is good, then God would have created everything in a state of permanent love, with no evil or suffering. If free will was required, then God must kill itself and disappear forever. That would be the ultimate sacrifice in order to allow free will. A perfect God, if it wants free will, would kill itself for love. If God's love is meaningful, and yet God cannot choose evil, then it makes no sense to say that in order for Humankind's love to be good, it does need evil.
The gospel accounts of Matthew, Mark and Luke contradict each other's records of the crucifixion, even on the parts that are the most important. Jesus died at different times of the day in the gospels, spoke to different people, gave different sets of final words and confusingly different accounts of the circumstances surrounding the death of Jesus. It is not simply a case that they recorded different details: the actions of Jesus in each gospel reflect general differences in opinion about what Jesus' character should be. In Mark's sombre account Jesus is silent and mocked by all around him, and cries out in despair at the end. But in Luke and John Jesus is talkative, gives advice, and is surrounded by followers even while on the cross. Despite the massive impact they would have had on entire communities, the gospel writers also record different supernatural events occurring upon Jesus' death too - Matthew 27:51-53 describes Earthquakes and the rising of the dead - things which no-one else at all noticed. Each gospel writer states their version as fact even though it is clear that some of them simply didn't know the truth.
For more, see:
When it comes to the resurrection, the differences in the accounts are simply astounding. There has been much written on this topic and I don't feel qualified to attempt to add to the existing material. Here are two notes on one particular aspect - it is simply too hard to try to imagine that such details can be different across first-person or even second-person accounts. The authors of the most of the gospels, if not all, did not have direct access to what actually happened.
The empty tomb, according to the Gospel of Mark, was found by some women, who saw a young man in a white robe inside. But Luke says that, actually, what happened was two men in brilliant clothes suddenly appeared by their side (there is no 'man in a white robe' inside the cave). Matthew embellishes the story with an earthquake and has an angel with a face like lightening roll the stone away. Mark's sombre account looks starkly empty in comparison to the other gospels!
When Jesus was resurrected after his death, like various other Roman pagan sun-gods, he appeared to various people. Mark's account contradicts Luke and Acts:
“In Mark and Matthew, the resurrected Jesus appears to his other disciples in Galilee, where they have been specifically sent by divine decree. [But] Luke and the author of the Acts of the Apostles have the risen Jesus appearing in and around Jerusalem [and] not only did they not receive any divine commandment to go to Galilee, but were expressly forbidden to leave Jerusalem.”
Many in history have argued that Jesus did not die on the cross5. Jesus prays to avoid his fate in Matt. 26:39, and in Heb. 5:7 says "during the days of Jesus' life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with fervent cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard" (NIV). Belief that Jesus didn't physically die existed amongst the earliest Christians6 (as well as some modern ones, such as the Christian Scientists7) and Qur'an 4:157 also states that Jesus only appeared to be killed, but was not crucified at all. There are respectable and mainstream scholars who also believe it6. There are three main forms of story in which Jesus survives the crucifixion:
Survival: A popular idea in modern times is that Jesus simply survived. Ancient historians and scribes noted on many occasions people who had been mistaken for dead, sometimes for days, before recovering8. Crucifixion was intended to last several days6 but Jesus was crucified on the eve of the Sabbath. It was customary to remove the victims that evening. The gospels contradict themselves; John says Jesus was crucified at noon, while Mark says it was the third hour, or 9:00 a.m. (John 19.14, Mark 15.25). In either case, Jesus hung for just three to six hours. He was mistaken for dead, and recovered later.
Drugged and Rescued: There are some strange details involving Joseph of Arimathea, a wealthy secret follower of Jesus. Joseph "boldly" approaches Pilate and collects Jesus' body - after followers applied a sponge to Jesus' face using a pole (Mark 15:36-37,42-45, Matt. 27:48-50,57-59).8. This is why the Roman Centurion and Pilate were both so surprised that Jesus died so quickly.
Substituted: Several early Christian communities didn't believe that Jesus was crucified at all. Documents such as The Second Treatise of the Great Seth and The Book of Thomas the Contender (both rediscovered amongst the Nag Hammadi scrolls) and the teachings of Basilides, have Jesus substituted on the cross. Early Christian texts recorded that it was Judas, Thomas or Simon of Cyrene who was actually crucified.6,9,10
There are enough contradictions and oddities between the Gospel accounts, combined with a complete lack of historical evidence for any of it, that ultimately it is not possible to really know what happened.
For more, see:
It is a strange fact that nearly all of Jesus' spoken words during the crucifixion are not direct quotes; Matthew's and Luke's account are mostly a copy of Mark's, and Mark has Jesus mostly speak using extracts from Hebrew scriptures. Robert M. Price (2003)11 points out that "virtually every bit of that narrative seems to have come not from eyewitness memory, even indirectly, but rather from scripture exegesis. The crucifixion account of Mark, the basis for all the others, is simply a tacit rewrite of Psalm 22, with a few other texts thrown in"12.
Another worrisome indicator is that as each gospel was written and copied in history, more detail was added to the stories, and more precise theological elements are added. This embellishment is the opposite of what occurs in strict oral traditions based on real facts. It is clear that some of the gospel writers, or all of them, are simply making up their stories of the crucifixion and it is apparent that there were no eyewitnesses available to correct their mistakes.
“Lack of evidence from outside of scripture surrounds the most important tale of the New Testament - Jesus' crucifixion and resurrection. Christian literature is filled with claims that these events were foretold. But again we have nothing outside of the Gospels that rules out what is the more plausible account: the authors of the Gospels formulated the life and death of Jesus to conform to their conception of the Messiah of the Old Testament.
Many people say they believe because of the many eyewitnesses who said they saw Jesus walking after he was supposed to be dead. However, that testimony is only recorded in the Bible, second hand, and years after the fact. Eyewitness testimony recorded on the spot would still be open to question two thousand years after the fact. Eyewitness testimony recorded decades later is hardly extraordinary evidence. [...]
We might easily imagine that independent evidence could have been found. Matthew describes what happened at the death of Jesus: "And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom; and the earth shook, and the rocks were split; the tombs were opened and many of the bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised, and coming out of the tombs after his resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many" (Matt. 27:51-54, Revised Standard Version). Again, we have no record of these phenomenal events outside scripture. If they really happened as described, Philo, Josephus, or one of the many historians of the time would likely have mentioned them. [...] In short, despite the long list of Jewish and pagan scholars writing at that time, there is no record of Jesus being tried by Pontius Pilate and executed - much less rising from the dead.”
"God, the Failed Hypothesis: How Science Shows That God Does Not Exist" by Prof. Victor J. Stenger (2007)13
When we discover intelligent life in the universe we will have to face certain facts. The first would be that the appearance of an intelligent humankind was not a special act of creation by god(s). If intelligent life can arise in a multitude of conditions it makes it less arguable that God needed to act specially in order to create humankind. Yet such actions are part of the creation stories of all major religions. The particulars of our religions would be reduced to local symbolism and relative truths that apply only in some parts of the Universe, to some species.
For more, see:
In Christian theology Adam and Eve were punished for the original sin (of eating the apple); this punishment would be passed on from parent to child, and included not only suffering in general and death, but also many specifics, such as having a painful childbirth. Romans 5:12: "Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned". Humankind was also expelled from the Garden of Eden at that point. Clearly, aliens on another planet are not subject to original sin, and, the punishments listed in the Bible may not even be applicable for the various possible life forms which exist in the Universe. Jesus was god's only son, crucified once here on earth, for us humans. Alien life makes a mess for the entire Christian idea of sin and salvation.
“Making our Earth just one amongst many raised thorny questions about Christ's uniqueness. It was hard to reconcile multiple inhabited worlds with the fundamental tenet of Christianity, that God singled out the human race for special attention.”
“The existence of extra-terrestrial intelligence would have a profound impact on religion, shattering completely the traditional perspective of God's special relationship with man. The difficulties are particularly acute for Christianity, which postulates that Jesus Christ was God incarnate whose mission was to provide salvation for man on Earth. The prospect of a host of 'alien Christs' systematically visiting every inhabited planet in the physical form of the local creatures has a rather absurd aspect. Yet how otherwise are the aliens to be saved?”
Although Paul Davies talks of the humorous idea of thousands of Christ's resembling various aliens, being sent to all those planets by God, it contradicts the main messages of the Bible: that Jesus was God's only son and that the Crucifixion was a unique event specific to Jesus (1 Peter 3:18). So, there is no salvation for aliens. Also, Biblical eschatology has Zion descend on to Earth after Judgement (Revelations 10), with no more stars in the sky. Genesis 1:26 says that man is made in the 'image' of God and the angels, 'in our likeness'; so where would aliens come from? Are we to believe that intelligent life evolved throughout the universe but that our species in particular was created by the Creator, and that the Creator happens to look Human, along with the 'only' son of God who is also Human-shaped? To believe such things is known as anthrocentrism, a prideful and egotistical speciesism. Do aliens who live countless light-years away from Earth really have to know Jesus in order to be saved? But if you alter the Bible's stories to make them compatible with alien races on other planets, you also alter the central truths of Christianity; the religion you end up with after taking aliens into considering simply isn't Christianity any more.
These questions have few answers that Christians can accept and this problem has led some theologians down crazy routes. Some have postulated that all life in the Universe is descended from Adam and Eve; that aliens will also turn out to be Christians; or that because it is incompatible with the Bible, that there simply cannot be alien life elsewhere in the universe. We will see!
The crucifixion story of Jesus Christ is mythical, based on pagan religions, and makes no sense:
There is a complete absence of evidence for the events described - no authors mention the phenomenal events that supposedly occurred at the time of Jesus' resurrection, and, there are no records of Jesus being crucified in the first place. This is despite there being multiple historians of the time who kept extensive records of events in that era, especially of unusual events and the misdeeds of rulers. The only records we have are those written by Christians themselves. St Paul's letters are the earliest, but he didn't even meet Jesus; and then even the earliest gospels show strong signs of being mythological. Within each of them nearly all details of the crucifixion and resurrection are different. Very important details, such as Jesus' last words, are so different that it appears they are simply being made up. The earliest Christians did not know simple details such as where Jesus was buried.
Most the details of Jesus' death and rebirth are similar to the existing myths surrounding god-men in that era. The similarities to the Christs of other pagan religions are shockingly detailed, so much so that early Church fathers had to defend themselves against pagan critics who said that the stories of Jesus were simply pagan stories with new names.
The crucifixion makes no sense. The crucifixion did not empower God as God is omnipotent. It did not aid its understanding of Humanity, as God is omniscient. God did not need to become Human to experience Human suffering: God already knew. God is able to judge us perfectly, because God is perfect, just and all-knowing. The crucifixion of Jesus did not improve God's judgement of us, as God's judgement was perfect both before and after the crucifixion. The crucifixion did not aid us, as "knowing Jesus" was not the point of the crucifixion unless God has arbitrarily condemned everyone to hell who happened to live before the founding of Christianity. That those who lived before the time of Jesus' crucifixion are also judged fairly by (perfect) God means that there was no actual point to it all except as a needless public relations exercise. The entire escapade seems to be an irrational story copied from pre-Christian myths.