Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Biggest threats to Christianity

As you might imagine, I'm not particularly worried personally by emerging signs of the decline of the Christian religion. On the other hand, this inevitable shift in significance is a subject that interests me from a social and historical viewpoint. What have been its main causes up until now, and what are the biggest threats to Christianity from now on? Those are interesting questions, which I would be incapable of tackling seriously, in depth, in this humble blog.

Over the last few years, many observers have suggested that the church might decay from within, as a consequence of the countless affairs of pedophilia throughout the world. I don't think that's likely, because the clergy have had centuries to get their defensive act together in that domain, and they can be pretty cunning. Look at the case of that silly old priest in New York, Benedict Groeschel.

He dared to evoke the possibility of teenagers transforming themselves into evil "seducers" then "coming after" poor defenseless priests, and leading them into iniquity. What a despicable arsehole!

Other people imagine that the widespread acceptance of the atheistic theses of scientists such as Lawrence Krauss and Richard Dawkins will inevitably turn vast numbers of people away from religion. There again, I don't really see things in that light. A godless movement such as that of Dawkins will inevitably remain elitist—like my recently-proposed awestruckism [access]—for the simple reason that it takes a lot of intellectual preparation to understand and appreciate the various branches of scientific thinking upon which it is based. It's most unlikely that devout Christians might read, say, A Universe from Nothing (Krauss) or The Selfish Gene (Dawkins), only to be swept immediately off their feet by a sudden urge to become atheists.

Things don't work like that. Even a formerly religious reader who has been deeply influenced, say, by God is not Great (Hitchens) or The God Delusion (Dawkins) was most likely a favorable candidate for conversion to atheism. Besides, we must never forget that, all the way down from the pope to schoolteachers in faith-based establishments, their are hordes of Christians who claim that they have no trouble in accepting science while pursuing their belief in God.

No, let me tell you the nature of the greatest threat to Christianity. The danger, in a word, is bones : that's to say, the possibility (however remote it might or might not appear to be today) that the fragments of bones unearthed by archeologists will end up "speaking" through an analysis of their DNA. Up until now, the alleged Greatest Tomb on Earth—in the Crusader church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem—has remained resolutely empty. This is hardly surprising, because there was surely never anything interesting to be seen in that ornate structure. But certain researchers have been starting to look in the right places in the hope of finding and examining the bodily remains of Biblical individuals, including members of the family of Jesus. And these investigations could well upset the apple cart in the near future.

When I speak of researchers, I'm thinking primarily of James Tabor and Simcha Jacobovici, mentioned in my recent post entitled Jesus [display].

Ideally, one might imagine that the idea that Jesus was a splendid but perfectly normal male should shock nobody. But, because of the teachings of the apostle Paul, that simple idea is literally anathema within the established church. And if ever the examination of bones led us to conclude that Jesus had been married, that he had been the father of children, and that the so-called Virgin Mary had been the mother of five boys (of whom Jesus was the eldest) and two girls, then this would surely be disastrous news for most Christians, who prefer to envisage the Holy Family as unearthly supernatural creatures.

Sadly, we see already the initial signs of the hatred expressed publicly by certain eminent academics towards Simcha, who has the misfortune of being a humble Jewish-educated filmmaker, rather than a university professor. Click here to see, for example, Simcha's six-part response to nasty criticism of his interpretation of the presence of a pair of nails found inside a Jerusalem tomb.

You might say that the forensic analysis of stuff such a bones and nails strikes certain academics—not only Christians, but certain Jews, too—where it hurts most: that's to say, at the level where Jesus is no longer looked upon as a magical being.

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