Recently I read a comment from a Xtian proposing that even if one doesn’t buy into the supernatural deity status of Jesus and dismisses the miracles attributed to him in the New Testament, that one must certainly respect and honor the teachings of the man.
My response: “Really. Such as?” I asked for ten things that Jesus said that uniquely define him as a great thinker, great teacher, contributor to societal development, or the advancement of civilization. I’d settle for five. I’m still waiting.
I expected that he will eventually come back with “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Earth shattering! Also known as the Rule of Reciprocity it was professed by Confucianism, Buddhism, the Hindus, the ancient Babylonians, Hebrews, Egyptians, Greeks, et al, .all well before the Common Era.
Digging deeper I assumed he’d proffer that Jesus endorsed loving your neighbor as yourself. Yet, the same man said he came to instigate discord among family members, turning father against son, mother against daughter, etc. (Luke 12:53). Besides, “love thy neighbor as thyself’ was first written in the Hebrew bible (Leviticus 19:18) fourteen hundred years before Jesus was said to exist. Not a new concept; hardly worthy of awe and admiration; if it were Xtians would be Jewish and revering Moses as “God’. By the way…by neighbors they meant fellow Hebrew neighbors. If you were a Canaanite neighbor to a Hebrew your love experience may vary. Jesus’ perspective was the same as the Hebrew Bible’s.
Maybe he’d offer “love your enemy”(Matthew 5)? Really? Much as how Jesus loves us all but has no bones about sending freethinkers (his enemy one supposes) to Hell for non-belief, we are to love those enemies who would kill us and who we kill in war? Short of mercy killing how does loving those you must kill or who want you dead, logically reconcile in a rational mind? Since love and killing are so closely entwined in the philosophy of Jesus there should be alarms going off and eyebrows raised…not worship and respect. In fact the very concept is antithetical to reason or the human condition. Anyone who says they love Osama bin Laden, or Adolph Eichmann, or the guy trying to blow up the plane carrying them and their children is one of two things: a liar or a psychotic.
Perhaps “do not worry about tomorrow… [God will provide]” (Matthew 6) holds some value? Imagine if the whole world did as Jesus admonished and just didn’t worry about where their next meal was coming from, or their mortgage payment, or where they will sleep tonight, or how they will pay for their children’s higher education. Those aren’t prophetic words by which to live. No one besides a welfare dependent crack whore or third world beggar would consider living like that.
The religionist came back with none of these. Instead he said he’d have to do some “research.” He also tossed out the ever popular “You seem to be angry.” platitudinous Xtian hand grenade and invoked martyrdom at the hands of my “militant atheism.” So much for his original contention of Jesus’ admirable teachings being worthy of respect.
Virtually everything else Jesus said (and there wasn’t an awful lot) related to honoring god, being meek, talking down wealth and productivity, taking abuse, praying to a non-existent being, fixating on sin, and threatening badmouthing you to his Dad if you don’t buy his exalted position.
No. Only with belief in the supernatural -- belief in and fear of what the imaginary afterlife holds, does Jesus’ have any value. Without that Jesus is worthy of the same respect and admiration due any one of the thousands of cynic preachers and religious fanatics of his time; and eminently less than any of our Founding Fathers, Jonas Salk, or your kid’s favorite teacher.