I stopped being a Christian not because I stopped believing in empathy, compassion, and kindness, but because I couldn’t accept the main tenets of Christianity — mostly the supernatural stuff.
Christian theology states that Jesus suffered, died, was entombed, and then was resurrected from the dead. He not only came back to life (which might be half-way believable to a skeptic, given the fact that in biblical times, it might have been easy to declare someone dead prematurely), but he ascended bodily into heaven. This means that Jesus’ body floated, or flew, up into the air and into Heaven.
If we’re honest with ourselves, this is really far out stuff. Given what we now know about life, death, consciousness, and the self, there is no evidence whatsoever to suggest that the body of a deceased human being could come back to life and then float up into space. There is also no science to explain how, without a functioning brain, a person could retain any sense of their former living self in any type of afterlife. (Of course, the claim is that Jesus wasn’t just a normal human being, but more on that later.)
I do realize that 2/3 of Americans actually do believe that the resurrection really occurred.
I also believe that many people don’t like the implications of the resurrection as myth. If the resurrection is a myth, what else is not literally true? If the resurrection is mere symbolism, doesn’t that kind of throw a wrench the whole Christian doctrine?
Resurrection aside, there are some pretty amazing claims made in The Gospel of Matthew that are sorely overlooked by the average Christian. In fact, having been a Christian myself for a good part of my life, I was kind of amazed to have been made aware of this particular passage.
After Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection, Matthew: 27 describes, quite simply, a major zombie uprising:
At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split and the tombs broke open. The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. They came out of the tombs after Jesus’ resurrection and went into the holy city and appeared to many people.
This is fairly clear in the text. Zombies actually rose out of the ground and walked into the city and certainly scared the bejesus out of people. What in the world are we to make of this?
I don’t know. I’m no theologian, and I’m sure apologetics have found a way to explain it. But I do believe one of the big takeaways from this passage is this: The Bible should not be taken literally. It is rife with claims that, quite honestly, are no less fantastical than the claims made in Greek or Roman mythology, or Scientology, for that matter (which I believe is mostly seen as super-weird because it is a new religion with outlandish claims). The only difference is that we have heard the claims of The Bible since birth, and hence, they seem as true as the crossing of the Delaware.
The Bible is a heavily edited collection of writings by superstitious Bronze Age men who, at the time, had a very limited understanding of the laws of nature. (They did have the capacity to spin a good yarn.) This doesn’t mean that there was no Jesus. There are no compelling reasons to believe he didn’t exist. This doesn’t mean that the Bible doesn’t offer us great passages of wisdom, beauty, horror, and heartbreak. It does. It doesn’t mean that everything in the Bible is bogus.
As comedian David Cross said, “The Bible is the world’s longest game of telephone.” There is probably a great deal of truth to that. It doesn’t make the Bible sinister, or counterfeit. It makes it exactly what it is: a long oral history put to paper in a great undertaking that took hundreds of years, with many different authors writing to many different audiences for many different reasons, in different languages. Throw in some major squabbles over content and purpose, the expulsion of several books, significant editing, and pseudonymous writing, and you have a complex, if flawed, collection of writings. We also have to take into consideration the fact that the Gospels, which many believe to be eyewitness accounts of the life of Jesus, were written many years after Jesus’ death. The first Gospel accounts (Mark) did not appear until 40 years after Jesus died. If we take into consideration the life expectancy at time of the writing, that is quite a bit more than a lifetime.
C.S Lewis posed to us his ‘trilemma‘: Jesus was either a liar, a lunatic, or Lord.
Lewis is forgetting a fourth option: Perhaps Jesus never made the claims to begin with. This is not a radical suggestion.
Regardless, there is much to gain from the observance of Easter. It is, after all, a celebration of rebirth that echoes other springtime rituals predating Christianity. Its symbols and traditions reverberate all throughout human history.
There’s certainly no reason to let a couple of zombies get in the way.