Among the many comments generated by my post a few weeks back, More On Matters of Faith, in which I attempted to explain in an honest and forthright manner how I lost my faith and came to embrace a secular existence, is this exchange:
Lisa: I’d like to offer some non-Christian historical evidence that Jesus Christ is not a mythical person (as you refer to Him in your other blog); he really existed. There are several historical non-Biblical references by non-Christians verifying Jesus’ life and existence:
1. Flavius Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, XVII, 3.3, XX 9.1
2. Publius Tacitus, Annals, XV,44
3. Lucian of Samosata, The Death of Pregrine, 11-13
4. Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus, The Lives of the Twelve Caesars, “Life of Claudius” 25.4, “Life of Nero,” 16.2
5. Pliny the Younger, Letters to Trajan, X, 96, Epistles, X, 96
6. The Talmud, Sanhedrin 106a-106b
7. Thallus, Histories, III, and Phlegon, Chronicles quoted by Julius Africanus
These are a few of the more popular ones. You should also consider the fact that the entire world’s calendar is based on His life (BC and AD). You can argue you don’t believe that He is the Messiah and loves you (yes, you personally, Lisa), but to say he is mythical is unfounded. In your defense, however, perhaps you don’t have the benefit of these other historical fact points.
As for the existence of God, I too, like Addie, have a very close relationship with God, and yes, He talks to me and most people who will listen (no I’m not special or crazy, just open). In fact, He sent me here to you today to bring you this message; He put you in my heart and on my mind, so I Googled you and found your blog.
It saddens me to read about your beliefs. Why? Because you are missing out. You are missing out in your life now, and certainly for eternity. I understand that you are “fine with it.” Why do I care? Let me explain it this way. You are a mom (I am too) … you want the best for your kids … you care for them … you watch out for them … you nurture them … you love them. This is the way of God as well (before you jump in and ask “why is there so much suffering on earth, then?”, let me finish). He wants the best for you, yes you Lisa, and because we Christians understand this, we work with God to help deliver His message. God does not force Himself upon us; it’s up to us to accept His love and His gift of salvation through Jesus. This is why Christians care about people; it’s a reflection of God’s love. I agree with you that a lot of man-made religion and interpretation is messed up; God’s plan, however, is not messed up. We live in a fallen world, and for now, we must deal with suffering, death, pain, sorrow, and deceit (Satan’s greatest tool).
The authenticity of the Bible? Items taken out of context, like anything, can cause confusion and frustration. I’m not a Biblical scholar, but every time I learn something new in the Bible, I see more of the dots in the Bible connected … and more scientific evidence of its authenticity (the Star of Bethlehem, the Parting of the Red Sea, Sodom & Gomorra, Exodus guide, etc.). A closed mind and heart will not see or pursue these things – that is Satan’ will: to convince people God doesn’t exist, we don’t need Jesus, and we are all just fine.
Miracles? They happen every day. You’ve had a tough life, tougher than most. I’ve had a tough life; we all have challenges … some more than others. It’s up to us to decide how to respond to them and how to respond to God. Some people shut the door on God thinking He has forgotten them or thinking He doesn’t exist. Many times, it’s simply easier that way. Some people praise Him for providing the opportunity to learn, grow, and become strengthened. There was a time in my life when I had hit bottom, and I was truly tested. God sent me a miracle, and it was only recently that I have begun to see the miracle and how to use it for His glory. Let me explain: I have no musical training, but God began sending me beautiful music that I spontaneously compose (71 songs so far). This began years ago, but only a few months ago did I realize that this music aligns to Biblical Scripture – this is no random fluke. I have created 3 music videos so far … please check them out on my YouTube channel: wogdeb. God has gifted you, too. I read your interviews and blog posts; you are a very talented writer. Once you recognize and accept that this gift is from God (and not of your own doing as Satan would have you believe), you will begin to see so much more of God’s wonderful, giving, loving plans for you.
The bottom line is that God does love you, even if you reject Him. That is why He sent me to you today.
Love, Aunt Deb
Sigh. Posts like this just make me weary. Don’t you have better things to do with your time than Google people and try to push your beliefs on them? I’m sorry, but I’m just not interested in checking all the references you’ve listed that supposedly prove Jesus’s existence. References certainly are not proof. There are plenty of references to Santa Claus, to Big Foot, to the Loch Ness Monster, and to the Tooth Fairy, but we all know, of course, that none of those actually exist. Maybe Jesus Christ really did exist! I’m only saying that nobody is sure. Proof of his existence would still certainly not prove all the Christian assertions about him, that he was the son of god, that he rose from the dead, that god exists, etc., etc. If there were proof of any of that, it would be called “fact” and not “faith.”
I am happy with my life, I am fulfilled and grateful, and yet I do not believe in god. Why is it so hard for some of you to accept that? If you must believe that I am guided by Satan, then so be it.
Several things in your comment have me wondering if you actually are my “Aunt Deb.” If you are, I have to say that I find it even more disturbing and offensive than I might if you were a complete, random stranger, knowing that over the years I have made efforts to establish a relationship with my Aunt Deb, and it was never really reciprocated. So if that’s who you are, and you are now only pursuing me in order to convince me of your beliefs, I find that highly disrespectful to me as a person. I also see that you have signed up as a follower of my blog. While I am flattered that anyone would want to continue reading what I write, if you only want to follow in order to proselytize, please don’t.
Upon reflection, I realize my previous note to you was inappropriate, and I apologize for sending it. My goal was not to irritate you, and it was not intended to be disrespectful. We have no relationship, so it was not appropriate for me to engage in such a discussion; I was merely reacting to what I read in your blog. Albeit clumsy, I was sincerely trying to reach out to you.
How could it possibly be inappropriate if God called you to do it? Do you really not see how ridiculous it all is? Rhetorical questions; no need to answer. This is exactly the kind of thing that makes certain Christians look like a pushy, self-righteous, sanctimonious lot who think they have a monopoly on the truth and the way everyone’s lives should
The last part of the exchange just took place this morning, and I am fuming. First of all, this is a perfect example of Christian sanctimoniousness and – I’ll go ahead and say it – lunacy. How many people in this world have made, and continue to make decisions because they are deluded into believing “God” called them to take such and such action? How many of those decisions are potentially – or actually – life altering? How many of those so-called divinely inspired decisions go south and ruin lives and relationships? How many people quit their jobs and gave all their money away in anticipation of The Rapture recently, and historically many times over? How many people sacrifice their savings to give to churches that promise them a direct line to God and salvation? How many people take on circumstances they are not equipped to deal with because they believe “God” wants them to do it – only to have those circumstances turn tragic?
Of course, the exchange I’ve posted here isn’t that dramatic or carry the weight of life-altering decisions made in the name of God, but still, this person happens to be my aunt. I would be bothered enough were it a random stranger or someone with whom I’ve had a casual internet relationship who came to my blog to preach their beliefs to me, but to know that someone I’m related to – my dad’s younger sister – and someone I’ve attempted a number of times over the years to establish a relationship with (we are geographically on opposite sides of the country, and have been for most of my life, which I’ve always assumed has stood in the way of our having any kind of close emotional relationship), only to be rebuffed (lack of interest? lack of time? I have no idea), and then now to be pursued by her solely so she can attempt to impose her ideals on me – man, it pisses me off. Is it any wonder? Seriously, people. And don’t give me any crap about her (or people like her) good intentions – it’s pushy and rude and self-righteous, and it harms me by violating MY right to live free from religion, religious dogma, and religious ideals.
Believe what you believe, and if it serves you well, then that is a wonderful thing. But to think that the way YOU believe is the way everybody should believe, to impose your ideals on any other person – personally or by virtue of expecting public policy to reflect your religiously founded ideals – that is wrong. And that is what makes me so goddamned angry about religion.