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Monday, September 1, 2008

Analogous Absurdity

Last night I spent about an hour typing up some of my thoughts on why religions, starting with Christianity, don't make sense to me in a stream-of-consciousness style, and then spacing them out over several posts. By coincidence, Ray has chosen to write this morning on just one of the many absurdities of Christianity. A reader poses a question:
I would like to ask you a couple of relevant questions pertaining to the 'sacrifice' of Jesus and it's purpose. Please logically explain why an omnipotent, omniscient, and omni benevolent God would need to sacrifice Himself (as Jesus) to Himself (God) in order to forgive man of sins against Him (God)? The entire premise seems totally absurd.
I think Ray's explanation was quite inadequate. He threw out a number of analogies, but they missed the centerpiece of the question: God sacrificing himself to himself in order to forgive man's sins (as defined by him) against him.

Ray begins with an analogy that the atheist in his stupor has been going 80mph while drunk in a 15mph zone and Ray has sold everything he has (including his quarter of a million dollar home) to pay the fine to the police to get the atheist released. I think he could have made a better analogy to address Chuck's question with his later comment about the dog. Observe:
My dog, vastly inferior to me, has just been born as a puppy. I lay down some laws for him. A few of these commandments is that he cannot poop in the house, he can't chew my sneakers, and he can't get in the trash. Furthermore, he cannot even think about it, or else he has committed the crimes "in his heart." Breaking any of these commandments will result in me torture, maim, and beat him for all of his life (this isn't a true comparison, as the punishment should be torture for all eternity). Since the transgression is visited upon the offspring, all of his offspring will be tortured as well.

One day, I decide to cook a steak and throw it into the trash and then set the trash can right in front of him. Then, he thinks about getting into the trash, thus breaking the commandment. I love my dog, though, and I don't want to have to torture him for all eternity. So, I sacrifice myself by having me tortured and then killed, so as to forgive the dog his sins against me for me.
While the analogy is not perfect, as it cannot be, it is much closer than anything Ray offered. One of the big problems about it is that I'm not a god, so I can die. God killed himself to "pay the fine" even though God cannot die. Death as a punishment on God would be like clipping my nails is a punishment of torture on me. Perhaps that would make the analogy truer: to redeem the dog of his thoughtcrime, I have punished myself by clipping the nail off the end of my pinky.

The major problem with all of Ray's analogies concerning Jesus -- not only in this blog post, but in his ministry in general -- is he always uses an example of paying a monetary fine. This is a false analogy as it doesn't resolve the absurdity of vicarious redemption. A truer analogy would be that I have run a red light and have been imposed a fine of continual, unending torture. My sister doesn't want to see me endure that, so she kills herself, thereby redeeming me. It is absurd.

The first commenter to the post writes:
So: an omnipotent omniscient God creates flawed beings that offend him so much, he sacrifices his own son in lieu of payment from the failure of his flawed creation.

Still doesn't make sense, Ray.
To which Ray tells him to go back and reread the concluding line of his post:
"For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God."
Hey, the emperor has nothing on!

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