The “Special” Saviour

Question from Meg:
So why don’t you believe in God? I’ve always found that with most real atheists there is an actual reason rather than just a lack of interest.

And also,
In previous discussions I’ve noticed that there has apparently been other stories of saviours with twelve disciples etc. I have never heard of these parallels, so I can’t say whether or not they are true but I do know one thing for sure. Not one of these could forgive sins. Does this not mark Jesus as special?

Answer by SmartLX:
It’s certainly not a lack of interest. Religion as a whole is not only interesting but fascinating. It is rather a lack of evidence or convincing arguments. At a certain point enough time had passed since my early indoctrination into Catholicism that the emotional connection had faded, so I was able to look at it with no strong bias, as a real agnostic. As I did I realised I didn’t buy into it at all anymore, and had not replaced it with any other faith, and was therefore an atheist.

While it’s been established that the individual features of Jesus’ story are all fairly common in mythology, Jesus does apparently represent a unique combination. For instance, while many gods have spent time in human form and many gods forgive sins, I know of no other story in which the earthly avatar himself was personally responsible for forgiving sins. Here is a list of other crucified saviours, and the reasons for several have to do with sin, but none of them appear to be quite the same.

I suppose you could call Jesus special based on that, but it would mean that all comparable figures are also special in their own ways. They’re all unique combinations, because they’re all at least slightly different. The Hindu god Indra, for instance, is probably the only one who had to get wasted on the liquid essence of another god (Soma) before fighting a serpent to get Earth’s water back.

Ultimately, even without devaluing the word “special” like this, the idea that Jesus was special among religious figures does not in itself support the idea that he was really a god, or rose from the dead.

5 thoughts on “The “Special” Saviour”

  1. A lot of religious people I know tend to believe its a rebellious attitude which makes atheists reject god/ religion. In my interaction with other atheists and agnostics I have found this not really to be so. Its mostly reasoning which brings us to the conclusion.

    With me it started with an experiment – I wanted to see what it felt like if I did not believe in god. I was getting tired of trying to reconcile the obvious problems with people, life and the world in general with religion and religious philosophy, which I was really keen on and interested in.
    I decided to look for practical reasons for why things happened and learning to live with what happened, instead of waiting for “divine justice”, “signs from above” or some such.
    It was actually quite liberating to live this way. Much more liberating than I had ever felt with even the broadest religious philosophy. So much so that the experiment became a full blown way of life and thought and I became an atheist.

    I did discover that chucking belief and allowing reason and science to guide one through life requires a lot of effort too. There is no cozy fall back, and there is a tendency even while using reason to look for the simplest explanation and believe it to be true. Some simple explanations are not true of-course and it takes a lot of effort, discussion, reading, getting to know what’s been objectively discovered to understand the reason for why some things happen(ed) / for why things are the way they are.

    I am thoroughly bored of religion now. I tend to agree with the view that a few atheists have – religion is so irrelevant that its should not even be discussed. When you live for some time as an atheist I think you tend to gravitate towards this view. When I compare what science, psychology, biology, mathematics, economics, etc have to offer me with what religion has to offer me… religion simply seems, well, not worth the effort to pursue.

    There used to be a time I would devour books on religious philosophy. Now I can’t be bothered to read one page of a religious text. I remain interested in testimonies and reports of strange phenomena, and I daresay I have experienced something of that sort first hand. But I remain highly skeptical of such things all the same – tall claims require tall proofs, in my view.

  2. Fair enough I suppose. You sound very skeptical indeed. In fact, you remind me of this guy named Thomas. Even though he was told over and over again not to worry because Jesus would be raised from the dead, he found that he could not believe unless he felt the wounds with his own hands and saw for himself what had happened.

  3. Well Meg … he’s also called “Thomas the believer” from what I remember. And he seems to have attained to sainthood somehow šŸ™‚
    I aspire to nothing of that sort of-course … just a simple life guided by more reason and less blind belief.

    And yes, like him, I’d have to touch the wounds unfortunately. Probably get them lab analysed too to be extra sure, what with special effects and cosmetic surgery these days šŸ™‚

  4. The interesting thing is that God and Jesus don’t generally respond to requests like that of Thomas anymore. It’s a pity from your perspective, Meg, because it apparently worked wonders on Thomas and would make converting modern atheists a lot easier.

  5. Haha, that would be DOUBTING Thomas, though possibly he became known as Thomas the Beliver. And the thing is, in the end he didn’t need to touch the wounds.
    SmartLX, I have to say that sometimes it has annoyed me that God doesn’t just show himself but then I realise that the people around Jesus saw what he had done and saw that he was raised from the dead and still didn’t believe…:)

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