Early Christianity VI

Why Jesus? How did he get that kind of following?  That’s the real quest of people who work in the field of religion. It’s little wonder that the most popular explanation over the ages has been that this is the work of God.

Historians don’t work from divine theories though. Historians can only look at what did happen in time and space. What we can say with some certainty is that the early followers of Jesus came to believe that Jesus had been raised from the dead and they were able to convince other people that Jesus was raised from the dead.

At a time of its rise there was much instability and merging danger in the Roman Empire It was overextended, there was clearly incredulity in the traditional gods of the Empire, and Christianity offered something that appeared to be utterly and beautifully coherent about everything from the smallest detail of your daily life…through to eternity.  Some scholars say it was ultimately earthly power politics, with an emperor recognizing the power of the people and their faith and getting behind it.

What really made the difference, the turning point, was the whole Greco-Roman world turning to Christianity.  Christianity was spreading and it was getting bigger and bigger, but without that decision on Constantine’s part, what we know of as Christianity, as a world religion, probably wouldn’t have happened.

The church that arose from the Nicean Council was the Catholics and they managed to have a strangle-hold on Christianity for nearly 1200 years.  The history of this church is as much evil as good.  There is much evidence that they changed many original tenets of the faith, and their management style was not even close to being holy. The church was, and is, greedy and full of sexual criminals and those that would kill off dissent. They probably hold the single largest and most valuable amount of extralegal booty in the world.

Whatever accounts for Christianity’s success, the debates, over what the faith in Jesus is and what organized religion should be are far from settled. In the beginning of Christianity there is diversity and different points of view. There are different interpretations of Jesus and ways of understanding God and the world. In the beginning, there is no Orthodoxy and heresy. Much of the first 300 years of Christianity were spent defining that faith. The struggle regarding orthodoxy and heresy seems to never come to an end, and battles about truth and inclusion and exclusion are still with us today.

Some think if we could just get back to New Testament Christianity, then the church and people would live in unity. In reality, when we look at the pages of the New Testament, we find that from the very beginning, diversity and hostility characterized the believers. The Christian message and the Christian church have always lived in this tension and never seem to settle their differences.

Although Christianity has survived many powerful attempts to kill it off, today all religions faces what may be the toughest challenge of all…science.  Science seems to constantly invading the religious beliefs by proving that many things they speak of are either not true…or impossible.  This probably started in the early 1600’s as the naturalists, who were the scientists of the day, started to notice that the stratigraphic column that they were exploring was not consistent with the Biblical stories they were familiar with.

Most of the men of early science were men of letters and religion…and some were even ministers or priests. They started out trying to reconcile what they were finding, with their knowledge of the stories from the Old Testament.  The naturalists that were most religious probably just ignored the contrary evidence that was being found all about them as their understanding of the rocks and the greater world about them grew.  The sciences grew and grew while the religions tried to ignore it.  By the 1800’s almost all the sciences of the day were showing that the biblical stories were untrue and most likely just folk stories of a tribe of people trying to forge a common spiritual identity, and establish a homeland.

The fundamentalist believers of the 1900’s and later try their best to  explain the evidence in terms that are religion friendly, but the tidal wave of new knowledge is overwhelming and just keeps coming.  Some evangelical establishments such as the Institute for Creation Research (ICR), Answers in Genesis (AiG), and the Discovery Institute are actively recruiting members who hold higher science degrees to put on their letterheads and add prestige and credibility to their announcements that the bible is 100% in alignment with science and 100% accurate in all matters.

Whenever the established church has argued with science, the church invariably comes away the loser. The Bible and Scripture and science should not try to find common ground, as the effort is doomed to failure.  The proponents of religious explanations for earthly natural phenomenon tend to base their favorable beliefs on trivial evidence and sometimes ignoring large bodies of evidence contrary to their position.

People of religion that practice biological or earth sciences in their day job, such as Prof. Michael Behe of Pennsylvania University, and others tend to search for some small particles of information that can be slanted to their advantage.  Prof. Behe came up with the term of irreducible complexity to try to explain that many things in the natural world show signs that they had to be designed and created fully functional by a higher intelligence, and not naturally produced piece by piece over large amounts of time.  Although later research unrelated to Prof. Behe’s original examples proved this was not what was happening and that nature really could produce the complex pieces and systems that were in our bodies and the world around us.

Religion in Europe is quickly declining as the old world has come to recognize how much their world has suffered in the wars of century’s past and finally realize that a institution that has so many flaws cannot be for real.  American fundamentalists keep churning the waters and doing their best to keep that ‘Old Time Religion’ alive.  Because there are so many people that want to believe (and so many jobs at stake) or who are gullible and trusting that can be convinced by esoteric argument, religion continues to spread its suffocating pall over rational thinking in today’s American society.

Youngsters are being raised in evangelical fundamentalist homes to believe in a Literal truthfulness of the Christian Bible and spreading the ‘word’ in all their relations with the real world. They build and organize their world around religion and seem to think that they will ascend to heaven at any time; indeed they are wishing for it to happen. Although this kind of nihilist thinking has gone on for centuries among the religious nothing has ever shown that what they intellectualize about the Biblical is real and will ever happen.
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About the word of me
Interested in family and friends,grandchildren, photography, darkrooms, history, archaeology, scuba diving, computers, software, fast cars, journalism, writing, travel, ecology, news, science, and probably most other subjects you could think of. Did I mention family and friends?? I require iced tea or cold brewed coffee and a internet connection to be fully functional. Sometimes there are just so many words in my head they spill out.

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