Tuesday, June 7, 2011

God and God's Dissenters

If one studies ancient religions, he or she finds out that many god-human couplings, wherein the woman is a virgin, produces a god-man as offspring.  This same god-man (Mithras to name one) endures crucifixion and raises from the dead three days later. So, argue some famous atheists, this disproves the Jesus story of the Christian tradition. Really?

While it is certainly possible that the early followers of Jesus merely reproduced the story of Mithras, substituting Jesus, and adding some other details. But I wonder if any of those ancient religions ever stated that their god-man was fully God and fully human, or God as human, as Karl Rahner, SJ, says. Somehow, I doubt that. 

As a dear friend says: "I'd like to see these so-called New Atheists take on the Niebuhrs," referring to Reinhold and H. Richard Niebuhr, two Protestant theological giants (also brothers) of the Twentieth Century. So many other theologians could be added to the list! Much of organized atheism attacks fundamentalism, which mainstream religion disdains as well.

Religion need not fear atheism, for the latter keeps it on its toes, which is not a bad thing. But the reverse is true as well. No one can prove or disprove the existence of God or the Incarnation, period. Besides, about just what God are they arguing and what does incarnation mean? Clarification rules the day...

Many atheists argue that all people are atheists in relation to the ancient gods (not entirely true) and that all we have to do is stop believing in just one more god and we'll be "free". It seems to me that this last one might just be the One True God in whose wake others have fallen (or not for some). Just because something can't be quantified, fails to render it nonexistent. 

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