Thursday, August 10, 2006

A Whisper is a Whisper and a Shout is a Shout and a Heresy is a .. well, just plain old Sloth

Patrick at It’s a Matter of Opinion wrote a post on why he is not religious. He cites the children’s game “Chinese Whispers” (aka “Telephone” when I was a kid) as the reason why. According to his theory, over the years the message got garbled just like how rumors and gossip do. Therefore, according to his idea Jesus was not the Son of God, just a good man who preached a wonderful feel good message. It’s interesting to note that conveniently, the message didn’t get garbled, just the true identity of the messenger did.

Now I don’t have a problem with people if they don’t want to believe due to a myriad of emotional, intellectual, and spiritual differences as long as they are honest in their reasons. But don’t insult my intelligence by using that facile excuse not to believe in Christ’s divinity. Don’t say “They made that part up”, but not the rest of it. And if you really subscribe to the Chinese Whispers conspiracy, then ALL OF HISTORY IS SUSPECT. That’s the logical conclusion of such a theory.

Another reason why the Chinese Whispers Theory is faulty is that the game is WHISPERED. It’s so much easier to garble the message when it’s whispered than when it’s spoken loudly, or shouted. Even when I was 8 years old and played that game I noticed that the main reason why the message was twisted was because the whisperer didn’t want others to overhear the message and spoke too quickly or was laughing while conveying the message in my ear. However, when a message is spoken loudly and clearly to a number of people, it’s much less liable to be misconstrued.

Thirdly, the comment section of the post indicates support of the works of the Torah as factual, yet dismisses the main message (Christ is God) of the Gospels as false. I don’t know why one part of the Bible is subject to error when another part isn’t. I guess it’s either a matter of pick and choose according to one’s personal preference or bias. Hardly objective.

Fourthly, one cannot entirely dismiss a culture’s oral tradition as inexact. Many pre-literate societies have incredibly accurate memory and generation after generation can recite long epics and stories by heart without stumbling or error. My Dad used to say that the brain is like a muscle, and the exercise of memorization strengthens it. Within many of the Gospels are examples of mnemonic devices (the parables, the stories of healings…) which are commonly used with great success in oral tradition societies. The fact that they are used within each respective Gospel INDEPENDENTLY of each other (i.e., the authors did not consult each other for the source) indicates that there is historical and textual accuracy.

Fifthly, the first written Gospel occurred about 40 years after Christ’s death and resurrection by Mark, who was a disciple of Peter. Therefore we have an account recorded by someone whose source was a living eyewitness of Christ’s words and actions. Luke was a disciple of Paul of Tarsus. John IS one of the twelve disciples and eyewitnesses of Jesus, and Matthew drew his sources from Mark and “Q” which is also the same source for Luke and Mark (called the Synoptic Gospels) Hardly enough room to use the Chinese Whisper theory, which relies on too many distant and multiple sources.

Lastly, the belief that Jesus was just a good man rather than the Son of God is nothing new. The heresy of Arianism is probably the oldest among those which sprang from Christianity, and it will always be with us. It’s very common nowadays for people to subscribe to it. I think they are erroneous in their belief, and I can be tolerant of them. But what gets me is the use of faulty reasoning to excuse intellectual and spiritual laziness.