Some of the ideas I read in the Bible don't seem to fit in with the rest. Most religious people, when presented with this problem, feverishly cobble together some kind of ill-fitting explanation. My policy is to define, as best I can, the nature and scope of what I don't understand. [PDF]
Here are just a few of what appear to me as the most dominant anomalies and logical inconsistencies of the biblical text.
How can just one life (that of Jesus Christ) pay for the salvation of billions? The usual answer is that the life of the pre-existing Christ was worth far more than the total of all human lives that have lived or will ever live. If this be so, where is the sense in sacrificing this single more valuable eternal being for mankind? Why not keep that which is more valuable?
Did Jesus Christ actually pay with his life for the sins of humanity? He was originally an eternal self-existent being. He emptied himself of his eternal self-existence to become a mortal human being. This mortal human being was then sacrificed to pay for the sins of all humanity. After this, he was resurrected as the first-born son of the other eternal being that existed with him from past eternity. He was again an eternal self-existent being.
This is analogous to taking some money into a shop to buy some goods. You give the shopkeeper your money. The shopkeeper gives you the goods. Then the shopkeeper gives you all your money back. You walk out of the shop with both the goods and your money. Jesus Christ gave his eternal life to buy the salvation of humanity. Then he got eternal life back again. So the ultimate cost of salvation was zero.
As I understand it, the biblical text seems to say the following. He who became Jesus Christ was originally a self-existent being with eternal life. He cast off his eternal self-existence to become a mortal human. He was killed in sacrifice to atone for the sins of all mankind past and future. He was then resurrected to become an eternal being again.
The eternal self-existence he now had was not his original eternal self-existence. It was instead derived from the eternal self-existence of another being known as God the Father, exactly as a human father begets human life to a human son. Consequently, so the text seems to imply, sin was paid for by the destruction of the original eternal self-existence that Jesus Christ had before he became a mortal human.
The flaw in this argument is as follows. He, the original being (the Logos), Jesus Christ the human and Jesus Christ the resurrected son of God the Father are all depicted to be the same person. They are all the same conscious self-aware free-will entity. His original self-existence, his human mortal existence and his resurrected eternal existence are all merely vessels within which the same unique conscious entity was accommodated at different times.
Consequently, the person (the conscious self-aware free-will entity) did not die. He may have ceased to exist for 3 days and 3 nights. Nevertheless, he did not die permanently. He, the very same entity, continues to exist. So what paid for the sins of mankind? All that ceased to exist was his original self-existent life-force, life-source or spiritual body: not him.
The message defines sin as the transgression of the law. It also advises that the wages of sin is death. Thus the wages for transgressing the law are death. It is consequently tempting to equate wages with effect and assert that the cause of death is sin or that the effect of sin is death. Some people assert that death (and indeed suffering) are caused by sin. So, if a child suffers with AIDS or cancer and eventually dies in agony, it is because either the child or somebody else sinned. Since it is unlikely that the child had the opportunity to sin yet, it must have been somebody else.
If wages are used as a figure of speech to indicate effect, then rather than actively imposing a penalty for a transgression, God is merely informing mankind about a fundamental law of the universe. Sin is the cause: death is the automatic effect. It is similar to saying that if you jump off a cliff (cause) you will fall to the bottom and be killed (effect). The text seems to be saying the following. If everybody follows a benign cooperative way of behaving towards his neighbour, life will be constructive and good. But if some follow an adversarial way of greed and competition, life will degenerate into war, which will result in death and ultimately in global annihilation.
Notwithstanding, wages do not have any physical cause-and-effect relationship with work. They are what a master gives to a servant in return for service. The relationship between the amount of wage corresponding to a given amount of work is not determined by the laws of physics but by the whim of the master. A servant does not automatically receive any particular amount of wage in return for his service.
Consequently, it must be God who decides that the wages of sin is death. It does not matter whether the sin be a fleeting mischievous thought or the genocide of an entire race of people. It is rewarded with the same wage, namely, death. If this were applied in civil law, a motorist would be hanged for a minor parking offence just as would a psychopathic serial killer for his heinous acts of murder.
What is more, the wages of a sin are not necessarily imposed upon the one who committed it. The text states that God visits the sins of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations. The doctrine of Original Sin, expounded in detail by Paul, takes this notion to its ultimate limit. It makes every person (who has ever lived, is living or ever shall live) guilty of the sin the first man Adam committed in the Garden of Delight.
I do not accept culpability for anybody else's sin. It is as if, when one person is convicted of a crime and is sent to prison for 10 years, the law requires that everybody else go to prison for 10 years also for the same crime. The punishment for sin (death) is thus expedited upon innocent people who had nothing to do with the corresponding sin and who probably know nothing about it. To my natural conscience, this paints a picture of God as a cold-blooded sadistic psychopath. I unashamedly do not wish to follow such a God.
On the other hand, the text of the message, in its cack-handed way, could be simply stating that the effects of committing a sin can have collateral effects that spread out in both space and time to cause problems for others who had nothing to do with it. Corporate factories belching out toxic fumes and carbon dioxide cause life-long respiratory diseases and global warming. The suffering many are well separated from the sinning few in both space and time.
It is well evident that the human mind has a built-in bias towards self-interest. Universal interest is an attribute apparent in only a precious few in this present age. The human mind will have to undergo a quantum leap in spiritual evolution before the majority gain such an attribute to any socially workable degree. So I admit, as the text of the biblical message asserts, that I was born with a sinful nature. I am naturally prone to sin. That is the way I am made.
If I sin, therefore, it is natural. I do not choose to sin from a neutral position. There is a natural force built into me as a system. Therefore, how can I be blamed if I sin? Why am I guilty of what results from the way nature has constructed me to behave? Of course, the ultimate effect of sin is death. But it is not my fault that I will die, or that others may be harmed as an unintended collateral consequence. I cannot therefore see any reason why I should be, or feel, guilty.
Furthermore, I cannot see how the act of one self-existent being forfeiting his self-existence and getting it back again by becoming born as a son of another self-existent being can put back what has been caused by my failing to act 100% in the cause of universal interest. I simply hope to gradually gain the strength to improve my adherence, using the 100% target as an attractor.
Following this endeavour, I would like very much, eventually, to be able to acquire the spiritual attribute of universal interest and hard-wire it into my mind. I would also like very much, having acquired that attribute, to be able to become a self-existence being with eternal life. I would, however, describe this as a process of development rather than an act of salvation.
Could there be a misunderstanding of the ancient word that was translated as 'guilt'? I think the words 'guilt' and 'wages' have had a certain spin placed upon them by partisan translators and creative editors to make the message conform to the will of their political masters.
This is considered to be the most heinous sin of all time. It was, nevertheless, a systemic necessity for the process of salvation to take place at all. I am referring to the so-called act of betrayal by Judas Iscariot. From the story given in the biblical text, as it comes across to me, I am led to the following conclusion. If Judas had not betrayed Jesus then Jesus Christ would not have died on the cross. If he had not died on the cross, nobody would be saved from sin. All would be consumed by the eternal fire.
Judas's act of betrayal must therefore have been a pre-ordained part of the divine plan of salvation. Consequently, Judas was predestined by powers beyond himself to do what he did. So why is it his fault? Why should he be considered the most heinous sinner that has ever lived? If he had not done it, somebody else would have had to. And then they would be condemned. It seems that Judas was born to be condemned. He must have been the most unlucky human to have ever been born, being pre-ordained for such a destiny.
I think that a God who would put such a burden, with its ultimate and inevitable wages of damnation, upon a hapless human being is callous and sadistic. Jesus ended up with eternal life: what of Judas, without whom none of this great plan would have happened? Perhaps the text has been messed with. Perhaps it didn't happen that way. Especially since it was Jesus who gave Judas the direct instruction to do what he had to do. Something doesn't quite add up.
I have no systemic problem with the notion of the human life-form being a physical analogue of the god life-form. However, I do have a problem with the idea of the human family being a physical analogue of the god-family. God-the-Father plus God-the-Son do not form a reasonable spiritual anti-type of the Father + Mother + Child structure of the natural human family. There appears to be no God-the-Mother. Mary (the human mother of Jesus Christ) cannot be the hyper-physical version of a human mother because she was herself entirely human.
Some postulate a Holy Spirit or Holy Ghost as a third person of the god-species. But this cannot be a counterpart of a human mother. In any case, I cannot see the idea of the holy spirit as a person as being consistent with the biblical text. As I read the text, it seems clear that the holy spirit is the god-species counterpart - or the higher reality version - of what imparts consciousness to the human brain.
A fit human being possesses the mental faculty that empowers him truly to assert "I think, therefore I am". Most, but not all, human beings possess the mental faculty that empowers them further to see things from the points of view of others as different from their own. Nevertheless, their core motive is still self-centred. Each uses his ability to see the points of view of others simply as a tool to better achieve his own ends.
From what I gather from the text, a human can receive this holy spirit. It gives him access to an external power that extends his conscious perception and gives him the motivation to love his neighbour as himself. He thus, while remaining an individual, becomes able to perceive and strive for the good of all. But, while he is a physical human being, this holy spirit is still a passive external influence. He can choose to follow or ignore what it gives him the power to see.
The holy spirit is therefore not a god-person. It is the hyper-consciousness possessed by the god-species. This leaves the anomaly of the existence of two separate genders having no apparent counterpart in the higher reality.
Consequently, the fundamental inconsistency remains. The text tells us that a life-form called 'god' created a life-form called 'man' in the same shape and form as itself. But we observe that there are two different forms of human being: male and female. So if god is like human, then god must exist in two genders: male and female. But the general account of the ancient text we call the Bible is of two male gods that promulgate a male-dominated (or machoistic) social structure for humanity. This is not only inconsistent with itself, but with the observed nature of the human species.
The idea of an all-seeing entity that can monitor the thoughts of every human being concurrently is inconsistent with the idea of individual consciousness or personality. It is a logical necessity that a universal consciousness would have no individual personality and hence could not be a separately identifiable being.
On the other hand, postulating an all-seeing God is a very effective way of making people afraid to do - or even think - contrary to an established system of law. It is therefore an excellent invention whereby an elite few can control vast ignorant masses through fear.
The final picture I draw from the Biblical text is of a time when practically all who have ever lived will have been resurrected in hyper-physical (or spirit) bodies and living together with the original gods as gods. All will be members of the god-species. It seems that the place where they live is in a hyper-physical city called New Jerusalem (the New City of Peace) on a new Planet Earth. Perhaps the new Earth will be this same physical planet that has been cleansed and renewed. Perhaps it will be a new Planet Earth fashioned from hyper-physical material within higher dimensions of the universe. Which of these it will be is not clear to me.
Whichever the case, what catches my attention as being strange is what the Biblical text says everybody will be doing in this place for the rest of Eternity. Apparently, they will be spending all their time singing and praising God. Presumably, the god that this uncountable hyper-deferential multitude will be praising is the Most High god that pre-existed everybody and everything. I have to admit that, as stated, this appears to me to be the most boring and unproductive pursuit imaginable. It also portrays the Most High god as the ultimate narcissist. Is it for this that the vast universe and all within it was created? What is the point? What is the purpose? What's next?
Despite all these anomalies and logical flaws in the message, as it is presented in the biblical text, there do seem to be some interesting chinks of light visible through the message's confusing syntax. There does seem to be a slender mycelium of sense running through it that the mistranslation and creative editing of the intervening millennia have not quite managed to expunge. But it's extremely difficult to unravel.