Thursday, October 17, 2013

Jesus desires all to be saved, just not that badly...

So asteroids are on their way to destroy the earth. Aliens show up and declare that their spaceships (which have no weapons capabilities to destroy the killer asteroids) can keep a "few" of the world's 7 billion people alive (though they admit they’ve had really meager success at saving other planets in the past). They are only going to pick the people who they believe are worthy. It is obvious that the sensibilities of these aliens (of what constitutes "worthy") are going to vastly differ from your own despite you being a lifelong sci-fi fan. Do you feel confident about your chances of making it on the spaceship based on the idea that you hope you were the right kind of sci-fi nerd?  If they tell you that they have been using mind-control to help some people become worthy for a while now, are you now confident that you happened to be one of those people?  You’ve seen a lot of crazy people at comic-con...

I believe the above analogy is basically analogous to the Christian salvation scheme in terms of probability of success of any given human.  I’m going to argue that Jesus is just fine with losing practically everyone as the Bible and observations from natural theology (i.e. human history) relentlessly demonstrate.  

In the beginning, Jesus could have made many different couples instead of just Adam and Eve and then prevented any couples who violated the sacred tree from reproducing.  Billions of human beings would not have had to suffer for the sins of so few or be so disadvantaged from the start if only Jesus had used some forethought.  He didn’t.

Popular young earth creationist websites estimate that before Noah’s flood that wiped out the entire planet there would have been 10 million humans alive.  Jesus could have saved more than 8 of them in the ark.  He didn’t.

After leaving his people in slavery in Egypt for 400 years, Jesus led 2 million of them out into the desert with the hope of making it to the Promised Land.  Jesus could have made sure more than 2 of the original population actually made it to the Promised Land rather than sending plague after plague and just letting them wander around until they died.  He didn’t.  

Over the course of most of the Old Testament prophets Jesus is having a tug of war over his people’s loyalties between his invisible self and the inanimate objects known as stone and wood idols.  He could have done better than regularly falling back on just preserving a “remnant” of faithful Jews.  He didn’t.

Even when Israel is having its most expansive, most successful heyday during the reigns of King David and King Solomon, it should be noted that apparently Jesus is only focusing on the one small nation of Israel rather than the rest of the planet.  Jesus could have picked many chosen nations or worked with them all on a case by case basis to ensure no one would ever be born into confusing or detrimental circumstances.  He didn’t.

In the New Testament Jesus is asked if only a few will be saved from the fires of eternal damnation.  To prove that all the hardships and apparent evils in this life were worth it and that there really was some long term strategy at play, he could have said that “most” would be saved rather than only a “few.”  He didn’t.

Despite Christianity being a world class religion, self-identified Christians still only number a third of the population out of 7 billion.  Jesus could have made sure every nation from the beginning of Christianity was informed, that even that later minority of humanity was all on the same denominational/sectarian page, and that most of them took their religion seriously rather than merely being culturally (or even mistakenly) Christian.  He didn’t.

So despite being an all powerful, all knowing, and morally perfect being, and despite expressing the desire that no one should be punished for punishment's sake (Ezekiel 33:11), that he would like all to be saved (1 Timothy 2:3-4), telling us that no one is responsible for the sins of their parents (Ezekiel 18:20), that all things are possible with this god (Matthew 19:26), and that even one lost "sheep" is worth his while (Luke 15:4), our lord and savior Jesus Christ in Matthew 7:14 confesses that there is apparently no mysterious greater good at work here since he loses the vast majority of his flock in the end.  Proverbs 22:6 even says, "Raise a child up in the way he should go and he will not depart from it."  Hmm...good advice!  Why our supposed heavenly father does not heed this obvious advice and instead lets his enemies and chaos reign on earth is beyond me.  He doesn’t seem to be trying to be successful because of egotistical reasons (as stated in Job 1:8-12) and makes negligent excuses for not tending to a fallen creation in the meantime (as in Matthew 13:24-30) as though having a police force or a legal system prior to Judgement Day is a waste of time.

Objectively speaking the odds are against you.  Satan and company, sin, death, confusion, ignorance, neglect, obscurity, bias, and whatever else still prevail the majority of the time.  It just doesn’t seem to matter than an all-powerful Holy Spirit is on your side once everything else in play is taken into account.  

Now, it could be that “few” being saved when it comes to 7 billion people might actually be a lot of people.  It could be 2 billion people!  That would classify as a “few” of them, right?  So do we breath a sigh of relief as we watch 5 billion other people burn in hell?  Are even 2/5 odds that good? Ever play Russian Roulette with 5 chambers out of 7 that are loaded (assuming a gun of that configuration actually exists...)?  

Does “few” even have to be that many (i.e. 2 billion)?  Revelation says there will be “many” who are saved.   Wouldn’t even the metaphorical 144,000 of the book of Revelation still constitute both a “few” from the standpoint of everyone and “many” from the standpoint of an individual?  144,000 is a LOT of people.  Just have them over for dinner and find out.  But didn’t I just show how abysmally poor Jesus is willing to let the scorecard be in specific cases from the Old Testament?  Eight out of ten million (0.0000008%)?  Two out of two million (.000001%)?    What is .000001% of 7 billion?  7,000?  That’s still a lot of people, right?  It’s also still just a few in reference to 7 billion.  It’s also apparently well within a divine being’s threshold of acceptable success, er, failure.  

So why aren’t Christians terrified?  

Maybe it’s because general Christian complacency is taken to be evidence of the confidence given by the Holy Spirit?  But don’t most Christian preachers rant *against* such complacency and ignorance of the Bible on a regular basis as they are disgusted by it?  Cult-think isn’t supposed to be cult-think, remember?  It’s all supposed to be just a big misunderstanding that the New Testament relentlessly seems to advocate intellectually stunted thought patterns and reality denying magical thinking to justify the belief system.  So if you’re not using cult-think you should be using something more like Bayesian reasoning.  And Bayesian reasoning requires inputting the prior probability of actual success here (i.e. not wishful thinking or obliviousness) based on the evidence we actually have from the Bible about what happens when Jesus actually tries to save people (i.e. what your religion actually teaches and the facts of the world show).  It also requires taking into serious consideration alternative explanations of the same data that we know from our experiences of the world.  I’m doing that here.  The results are grim.

Yes, an almighty god might be available to help you get to heaven, but how do you know when that is? And how do you know when you are self-deceived and/or deceived by Satan and his minions? What Christians may be most inclined to fall back on is not necessarily the work of a holy spirit. It's probably primarily enculturalization plus confirmation bias even if Christianity is true, right?  Enculturalization, complacency, and confirmation bias are real factors even if there is *also* a Holy Spirit in the mix.  Remember you have to take those alternative competing explanations seriously and factoring in their probability realistically.  There is never any obvious direct confirmation of being the “elect” in this life that is discernible through the thick fog of false religious confidence.  You don't think most people of most religions are comfortable with their religion regardless of whatever their religions teach?  That’s hardly evidence of anything!  But it is real information that responsible Christian thinkers would have to take into consideration.  

Remember, the many Bible verses that describe how hard it is to be saved are not addressed to unbelievers (i.e. Matthew 7:21-23, Revelation 3:16, Mark 4:24, Matthew 25:24, 1 Corinthians 9:24, Philippians 2:12, and Matthew 7:14).  They are primarily addressed to believers.  To sum up:  Make every effort to run the race as hard as you can with fear and trembling, because most people aren’t going to make it and Jesus is going to turn away a lot of lukewarm people who thought they would make it, because well, Jesus is an amoral asshole who does whatever the hell he wants.  So yeah, Jesus may well want everyone to be saved, but just not that badly as he is clearly willing to settle for only a handful.

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