Logic is all there is

It’s been long overdue since I wrote on theology. I apologize to my readers for that, had a lot going on in life. I have a lot of catching up to do. I was just wondering on what to write but my good friend is always there to provide me a topic. In the latest article which I am afraid is more than a year old, the writer seems to be replying to a Muslim’s inquiry regarding the God-ship of Jesus Christ.

The topic under discussion is regarding the Christian concept of God. Evidently, both the Christian and the Muslim participant agree to one thing i.e. God is without contradiction (hence God is immutable). Next the writer discusses the Hypostatic Union which states that the Son of God(Jesus) took on Human nature, which according to the writer does not depict change. The writer first provides a definition of change and then goes on to claim that:

“By definition, to take on a second nature does not imply changing the first nature at all”-ibid.

The writer is trying to claim here that while Jesus is already God, taking up human nature for him does not necessarily means that the nature of God is changed. One may agree, but I think the writer does not seem to fully grasp the very concept of change. Logically anything which has a beginning and an end, is always in a state of change. For something to be immutable, it should be free of time. (Hence the saying, “Change is the only constant in life”)

God is eternal in (almost) all religions because time does not apply to God. Keeping this logic in mind, now let’s re-visit the first claim that Jesus is God. For Jesus to be God, he should be present in his original form(a God-man) from the start. Which according to the writer is not true since he took the human form later on. If however, I am mistaken and Jesus was a God-man from the start, then that begs the question if the Father (is also a God-man) (refer to my article [Son-ship of Jesus-Christ])

Furthermore, the writer goes on to explain this via a ‘Triangle-box’ analogy.

“Keeping in line with my wish for simplicity, let us imagine a triangle. Now we all know the nature of a triangle i.e. it’s attributes, the things that make a triangle a triangle as opposed to a rectangle or circle. Good. Now let us at this point imagine a box. Once more we know what is the nature of a box and furthermore, we are also aware that the nature of a box is in direct contradiction to the nature of a triangle. Now suppose that we were to place the triangle within the box, would we then have a confusion, a mixing, an intermingling of the two essences/natures? No, we would possess one unit (the Triangle-Box if you would like) with the essences of both objects intact.

The triangle would not cease to be a triangle and neither would the box cease to be a box—on the contrary we would now have a unit that possesses in its being the very attributes of both in that it is not half a box and half a triangle but rather a full (perfect) triangle and a full (perfect) box. A veritable Triangle-Box, wherein the unit is one but the essences are two.” –ibid

Now, this is a very simple analogy and I get it, that it seems to the the writer that there is no contradiction here.  I will  use this analogy to try and explain the Muslim viewpoint. It is understood that Christians have their work cut out when they try to explain the Trinity in terms of Monotheism (since early Christianity and even Bible talks of ONE God), therefore the writer fails to see the greater picture staring in the face of this analogy.

In this triangle-box analogy, it is very convenient to put the triangle in the box because common sense dictates that the box is bigger than the triangle. Hence the box becomes ‘superior’ because depending on the size, you can fit in as many triangles as the box allows. Unfortunately, thing aren’t that simple I am afraid, when viewed in relation to God and human beings. It must be defined here, which entity is superior to other and I am sure in every religion, God is superior to human kind in every way.

But, then one may say “AHA! You can see take the box to be God and the triangle to be a human being and then Jesus (the human) can become God”. That I am afraid will also fail when you place only a single triangle, depriving the box of its full potential. One key aspect of this analogy which is being overlooked by the writer is that while the ‘attributes’ or the essence of both the box and the triangle have not changed but the state of the box has definitely changed. Now the box holds a triangle which wasn’t present there before thus attributing to change.

Now, the writer after providing us with this defected analogy goes on to tell that this is why Jesus can have both contradictory natures within himself.

“As with the Triangle-Box, Jesus can claim the otherwise mutually exclusive prerogatives that come with each nature because of them being simultaneously existent in his being. Such that he can increase in knowledge as man, but always have known all things as God. Such that he can pray to the Father as man, yet have no need to do so as God. Such that should he will it, he is able to give his life unto death as man, and yet death never having any power or hold over him as God.” –ibid

I have already written an article on the issues of Jesus’ son-ship and why it defies logic, which the author is well aware of. For this, let’s take the life of Jesus as an example, the Jesus-man from the time of birth till death, had to eat, sleep, walk, work, pray and do every other chore as a normal human being, while the Jesus-God was present in him all this time (according to the writer). He conveniently used his ‘Godly’ powers on certain intervals but not every time (and definitely not when he needed it the most). This is a major contradiction. In all of Jesus’ life, we see him praying to God, eat on a regular basis and involve in other humanly duties and never choose otherwise. I am afraid that the concept of trinity is not that simple. Many Christians have taken up to explain it logically but it always end up badly. In no way I mean to offend Christians on their beliefs, it is one’s right to have a difference of opinion, I am merely trying to convey my point of view on this issue.

Now moving on to the writer’s claim that Muslims’ claim that God is immutable is false by quoting some Hadiths out of context.

“Now we understand that according to Islam, it is impossible for God to enter his creation because how could the infinite become finite so as to enter his creation, because if he were to take on the properties of his creation, he would cease to be God, et cetera, et cetera (might one say, yada, yada, yada?). If such is the case, could Muslims explain this (please read the section in red)?

It clearly says that Allah will take on a shape. Now a shape consists of something which is constrained by certain dimensions; these being length, width, height and so forth. Furthermore, we understand that length, width, height refer to area/space and such did not always exist. They are a creation of Allah. If then Allah can take on a shape (i.e. limit himself to certain dimensions) and as such exhibit the properties of what he has created (i.e. area/space) then has he changed the divine nature? Clearly Allah has just changed from how he existed before having created anything, to taking on the very properties of his creation and if any change in God must mean an inherent change in the divine nature then this must mean that Allah too is guilty of losing his divine attributes. Now of course Muslims will not like this but how will they explain away those clear statements by their Prophet?” -ibid

I invite the writer to go through the complete Hadith (all three of them) they are all depicting what will happen in the after-life on the day of resurrection, it talks of a place where all human beings will all be among the dead and their ‘SOULS’ will be resurrected. It is common sense that these Hadiths should not be put to the logic and rules of the physical world, but the spiritual world. I am sure it will clear the writer’s misconception. I am posting all the three Hadiths (which is one hadith reported thrice) in full text below for the writer’s reference. May ALLAH guide us all.

Sahih Bukhari Volume 9, Book 93, Number 532s:

Narrated Abu Sa’id Al-Khudri:

We said, “O Allah’s Apostle! Shall we see our Lord on the Day of Resurrection?” He said, “Do you have any difficulty in seeing the sun and the moon when the sky is clear?” We said, “No.” He said, “So you will have no difficulty in seeing your Lord on that Day as you have no difficulty in seeing the sun and the moon (in a clear sky).” The Prophet then said, “Somebody will then announce, ‘Let every nation follow what they used to worship.’ So the companions of the cross will go with their cross, and the idolators (will go) with their idols, and the companions of every god (false deities) (will go) with their god, till there remain those who used to worship Allah, both the obedient ones and the mischievous ones, and some of the people of the Scripture. Then Hell will be presented to them as if it were a mirage. Then it will be said to the Jews, “What did you use to worship?’ They will reply, ‘We used to worship Ezra, the son of Allah.’ It will be said to them, ‘You are liars, for Allah has neither a wife nor a son. What do you want (now)?’ They will reply, ‘We want You to provide us with water.’ Then it will be said to them ‘Drink,’ and they will fall down in Hell (instead). Then it will be said to the Christians, ‘What did you use to worship?’

They will reply, ‘We used to worship Messiah, the son of Allah.’ It will be said, ‘You are liars, for Allah has neither a wife nor a son. What: do you want (now)?’ They will say, ‘We want You to provide us with water.’ It will be said to them, ‘Drink,’ and they will fall down in Hell (instead). When there remain only those who used to worship Allah (Alone), both the obedient ones and the mischievous ones, it will be said to them, ‘What keeps you here when all the people have gone?’ They will say, ‘We parted with them (in the world) when we were in greater need of them than we are today, we heard the call of one proclaiming, ‘Let every nation follow what they used to worship,’ and now we are waiting for our Lord.’ Then the Almighty will come to them in a shape other than the one which they saw the first time, and He will say, ‘I am your Lord,’ and they will say, ‘You are not our Lord.’ And none will speak: to Him then but the Prophets, and then it will be said to them, ‘Do you know any sign by which you can recognize Him?’ They will say. ‘The Shin,’ and so Allah will then uncover His Shin whereupon every believer will prostrate before Him and there will remain those who used to prostrate before Him just for showing off and for gaining good reputation. These people will try to prostrate but their backs will be rigid like one piece of a wood (and they will not be able to prostrate). Then the bridge will be laid across Hell.” We, the companions of the Prophet said, “O Allah’s Apostle! What is the bridge?’

He said, “It is a slippery (bridge) on which there are clamps and (Hooks like) a thorny seed that is wide at one side and narrow at the other and has thorns with bent ends. Such a thorny seed is found in Najd and is called As-Sa’dan. Some of the believers will cross the bridge as quickly as the wink of an eye, some others as quick as lightning, a strong wind, fast horses or she-camels. So some will be safe without any harm; some will be safe after receiving some scratches, and some will fall down into Hell (Fire). The last person will cross by being dragged (over the bridge).” The Prophet said, “You (Muslims) cannot be more pressing in claiming from me a right that has been clearly proved to be yours than the believers in interceding with Almighty for their (Muslim) brothers on that Day, when they see themselves safe.

They will say, ‘O Allah! (Save) our brothers (for they) used to pray with us, fast with us and also do good deeds with us.’ Allah will say, ‘Go and take out (of Hell) anyone in whose heart you find faith equal to the weight of one (gold) Dinar.’ Allah will forbid the Fire to burn the faces of those sinners. They will go to them and find some of them in Hell (Fire) up to their feet, and some up to the middle of their legs. So they will take out those whom they will recognize and then they will return, and Allah will say (to them), ‘Go and take out (of Hell) anyone in whose heart you find faith equal to the weight of one half Dinar.’ They will take out whomever they will recognize and return, and then Allah will say, ‘Go and take out (of Hell) anyone in whose heart you find faith equal to the weight of an atom (or a smallest ant), and so they will take out all those whom they will recognize.” Abu Sa’id said: If you do not believe me then read the Holy Verse:–

‘Surely! Allah wrongs not even of the weight of an atom (or a smallest ant) but if there is any good (done) He doubles it.’ (4.40) The Prophet added, “Then the prophets and Angels and the believers will intercede, and (last of all) the Almighty (Allah) will say, ‘Now remains My Intercession. He will then hold a handful of the Fire from which He will take out some people whose bodies have been burnt, and they will be thrown into a river at the entrance of Paradise, called the water of life.

They will grow on its banks, as a seed carried by the torrent grows. You have noticed how it grows beside a rock or beside a tree, and how the side facing the sun is usually green while the side facing the shade is white. Those people will come out (of the River of Life) like pearls, and they will have (golden) necklaces, and then they will enter Paradise whereupon the people of Paradise will say, ‘These are the people emancipated by the Beneficent. He has admitted them into Paradise without them having done any good deeds and without sending forth any good (for themselves).’ Then it will be said to them, ‘For you is what you have seen and its equivalent as well.'”

Sahih Bukhari Volume 6, Book 60, Number 105:

Narrated Abu Said Al-Khudri:

During the lifetime of the Prophet some people said, : O Allah’s Apostle! Shall we see our Lord on the Day of Resurrection?” The Prophet said, “Yes; do you have any difficulty in seeing the sun at midday when it is bright and there is no cloud in the sky?” They replied, “No.” He said, “Do you have any difficulty in seeing the moon on a full moon night when it is bright and there is no cloud in the sky?” They replied, “No.” The Prophet said, “(Similarly) you will have no difficulty in seeing Allah on the Day of Resurrection as you have no difficulty in seeing either of them. On the Day of Resurrection, a call-maker will announce, “Let every nation follow that which they used to worship.” Then none of those who used to worship anything other than Allah like idols and other deities but will fall in Hell (Fire), till there will remain none but those who used to worship Allah, both those who were obedient (i.e. good) and those who were disobedient (i.e. bad) and the remaining party of the people of the Scripture. Then the Jews will be called upon and it will be said to them, ‘Who do you use to worship?’ They will say, ‘We used to worship Ezra, the son of Allah.’ It will be said to them, ‘You are liars, for Allah has never taken anyone as a wife or a son. What do you want now?’ They will say, ‘O our Lord! We are thirsty, so give us something to drink.’ They will be directed and addressed thus, ‘Will you drink,’ whereupon they will be gathered unto Hell (Fire) which will look like a mirage whose different sides will be destroying each other. Then they will fall into the Fire. Afterwards the Christians will be called upon and it will be said to them, ‘Who do you use to worship?’ They will say, ‘We used to worship Jesus, the son of Allah.’ It will be said to them, ‘You are liars, for Allah has never taken anyone as a wife or a son,’ Then it will be said to them, ‘What do you want?’ They will say what the former people have said. Then, when there remain (in the gathering) none but those who used to worship Allah (Alone, the real Lord of the Worlds) whether they were obedient or disobedient. Then (Allah) the Lord of the worlds will come to them in a shape nearest to the picture they had in their minds about Him. It will be said, ‘What are you waiting for?’ Every nation have followed what they used to worship.’ They will reply, ‘We left the people in the world when we were in great need of them and we did not take them as friends. Now we are waiting for our Lord Whom we used to worship.’ Allah will say, ‘I am your Lord.’ They will say twice or thrice, ‘We do not worship any besides Allah.’ “

Sahih Bukhari Volume 8, Book 76, Number 577:

Narrated Abu Huraira:

Some people said, “O Allah’s Apostle! Shall we see our Lord on the Day of Resurrection?” He said, “Do you crowd and squeeze each other on looking at the sun when it is not hidden by clouds?” They replied, “No, Allah’s Apostle.” He said, “Do you crowd and squeeze each other on looking at the moon when it is full and not hidden by clouds?” They replied, No, O Allah’s Apostle!” He said, “So you will see Him (your Lord) on the Day of Resurrection similarly Allah will gather all the people and say, ‘Whoever used to worship anything should follow that thing. ‘So, he who used to worship the sun, will follow it, and he who used to worship the moon will follow it, and he who used to worship false deities will follow them; and then only this nation (i.e., Muslims) will remain, including their hypocrites. Allah will come to them in a shape other than they know and will say, ‘I am your Lord.’ They will say, ‘We seek refuge with Allah from you. This is our place; (we will not follow you) till our Lord comes to us, and when our Lord comes to us, we will recognize Him.

Then Allah will come to then in a shape they know and will say, “I am your Lord.’ They will say, ‘(No doubt) You are our Lord,’ and they will follow Him. Then a bridge will be laid over the (Hell) Fire.” Allah’s Apostle added, “I will be the first to cross it. And the invocation of the Apostles on that Day, will be ‘Allahukka Sallim, Sallim (O Allah, save us, save us!),’ and over that bridge there will be hooks Similar to the thorns of As Sa’dan (a thorny tree). Didn’t you see the thorns of As-Sa’dan?” The companions said, “Yes, O Allah’s Apostle.” He added, “So the hooks over that bridge will be like the thorns of As-Sa-dan except that their greatness in size is only known to Allah. These hooks will snatch the people according to their deeds. Some people will be ruined because of their evil deeds, and some will be cut into pieces and fall down in Hell, but will be saved afterwards, when Allah has finished the judgments among His slaves, and intends to take out of the Fire whoever He wishes to take out from among those who used to testify that none had the right to be worshipped but Allah.

We will order the angels to take them out and the angels will know them by the mark of the traces of prostration (on their foreheads) for Allah banned the f ire to consume the traces of prostration on the body of Adam’s son. So they will take them out, and by then they would have burnt (as coal), and then water, called Maul Hayat (water of life) will be poured on them, and they will spring out like a seed springs out on the bank of a rainwater stream, and there will remain one man who will be facing the (Hell) Fire and will say, ‘O Lord! It’s (Hell’s) vapor has Poisoned and smoked me and its flame has burnt me; please turn my face away from the Fire.’ He will keep on invoking Allah till Allah says, ‘Perhaps, if I give you what you want), you will ask for another thing?’ The man will say, ‘No, by Your Power, I will not ask You for anything else.’

Then Allah will turn his face away from the Fire. The man will say after that, ‘O Lord, bring me near the gate of Paradise.’ Allah will say (to him), ‘Didn’t you promise not to ask for anything else? Woe to you, O son of Adam ! How treacherous you are!’ The man will keep on invoking Allah till Allah will say, ‘But if I give you that, you may ask me for something else.’ The man will say, ‘No, by Your Power. I will not ask for anything else.’ He will give Allah his covenant and promise not to ask for anything else after that. So Allah will bring him near to the gate of Paradise, and when he sees what is in it, he will remain silent as long as Allah will, and then he will say, ‘O Lord! Let me enter Paradise.’ Allah will say, ‘Didn’t you promise that you would not ask Me for anything other than that? Woe to you, O son of Adam ! How treacherous you are!’ On that, the man will say, ‘O Lord! Do not make me the most wretched of Your creation,’ and will keep on invoking Allah till Allah will smile and when Allah will smile because of him, then He will allow him to enter Paradise, and when he will enter Paradise, he will be addressed, ‘Wish from so-and-so.’ He will wish till all his wishes will be fulfilled, then Allah will say, All this (i.e. what you have wished for) and as much again therewith are for you.’ ”

Abu Huraira added: That man will be the last of the people of Paradise to enter (Paradise).

Narrated ‘Ata (while Abu Huraira was narrating): Abu Said was sitting in the company of Abu Huraira and he did not deny anything of his narration till he reached his saying: “All this and as much again therewith are for you.” Then Abu Sa’id said, “I heard Allah’s Apostle saying, ‘This is for you and ten times as much.’ ” Abu Huraira said, “In my memory it is ‘as much again therewith.’ “

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Holy Ghost and creation

PreviousThe role of the Holy Ghost

 

We do not observe any role played by the Holy Ghost in the divine plan of creation and also for that matter of Jesus Christ.

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. (Genesis 1:1)

Obviously it is God the Father who is referred to in the Old Testament without any hint of a reference to Christ or the Holy Ghost. In the entire pre-Christian era, among all the Jews who believed in the Old Testament and must have heard this verse hundreds of thousands of times, there was not one who could read the name of Christ in the creation of the Universe or that of the Holy Ghost. In his Gospel, St. John suggests ‘Word’ to stand for Jesus. It is strange that such an important subject has been taken up by author of only one Gospel; by someone who was not even a disciple of Jesus.1 Even if one accepts his word to be the word of God, still it can only be understood to mean the Will of God; a concept that is common to many religions with reference to Creation.

Surprisingly, the age-long secret of Christ’s and the Holy Ghost’s participation in the Creation, remained a secret to Jesus himself. We read not a single statement of Jesus Christ where he claims to be the Word. Therefore, neither had any part to play in the shaping and making of Creation. Again it was God the Father alone, we are told, who fashioned man from dust with his own hands. I have never read anywhere in any Christian writings that the two hands belonged to Jesus and the Holy Ghost. Hence God created everything without the slightest help from, or participation of, Jesus or the Holy Ghost. Were they passive observers generally in agreement with what God was doing or did they actually participate? If the latter is more acceptable to Christian theologists then immediately the question arises whether each of them was individually capable of creating, without the help of the others, or were they only capable in their totality. And again, if all three were essentially needed to pool their functions together to create, then was their share equal, or did one have a larger share of the labour put into the process of creation? Were they three persons with different powers both in intensity and kind or did they share them equally? One has to admit that whichever of the two options is taken, each of the components of Trinity becomes incompetent to create anything in itself.

If the same argument is extended to other Divine functions, the same question will continue to plague the Christian theologists. At the end of the day Christianity will have to admit that it does not believe in one simple entity of God, with three aspects and expressions of one single central power and majesty. But rather that they believe in three complementary components of Godhead that are three segments of the body of God. The question of being equal or unequal would then be assigned a relatively minor status.

Take, for instance, the attribute of Justice and Forgiveness. The Son appears to be more compassionate whereas God the Father appears to be less Just than the Holy Ghost, who took no part in the injustice on the part of God the Father.

The second possibility we mentioned was that Jesus and the Holy Ghost played an inert role in the processes of creation and the government of the laws of nature. That being so, it raises many other questions. First of all what is the assigned role of the two partners of God in the discharging of their Divine functions? If they are passive silent observers, like sleeping partners, then they are automatically relegated to a secondary, inferior position where they coexist with God but without, in practicality, sharing His powers. This concept of God having two non-functional appendices is very bizarre to say the least. I wonder whose conscience it can satisfy. Rationally it is, of course, unacceptable and does not harmonize with the Christian concept of ‘Three in One’ and ‘One in Three’. The oneness in three cannot be reached or even remotely conceived without there being a total merger of will, of powers and of whatever experience of life that can be attributed to a single living entity.

In the case of Holy Ghost, being a separate person, unless that person merges completely and irrevocably, losing all its identity in the other two, there remains no future hope of the emergence of a hydra headed-god with single thoughts, single will and a single body.

The role of the Holy Ghost

PreviousSin and atonement [last part]

So far, we have discussed the question of Jesus the so-called Son and also God the supposed literal Father of Jesus. Yet there is a third person by the name of ‘The Holy Ghost’ who according to Christian dogma, despite having a distinct individual personality, is still amalgamated and so completely and eternally fused with the ‘Father’ and the ‘Son’ that their merger creates a singleness in three. Now we turn our attention to this question by inquiring whether the Holy Ghost has an ego separate from the God or Jesus, or do they share one single ego? Ego can be described here as the ultimate of consciousness, which in the final analysis, is indivisible and specific to each individual. The same ultimate awareness of one’s being as distinct from others gives birth to ‘I’, and ‘my’ and ‘mine’, as against ‘he’ and ‘his’ and ‘you’ and ‘yours’.

Bringing into focus the three parts of Divinity, we must resolve whether the three have distinct egos of their own or not. If they do not have distinct separate egos, then to attribute to them personages would become inconceivable. Each person, however close he may be to another, has to enjoy a separate individual consciousness of his being.

The official position of most churches is very clear and well-defined, claiming that each of the three entities of God’s personage had a distinctly separate personage of its own. So it is not just ‘Three in One’ it is three persons in one person. The bitter encounter of Jesus with death and all its fateful consequences must have been equally shared by the Holy Ghost. So also, he should have been included in the sacrifice along with Jesus. Again, he must have suffered hell in the company of Jesus and God the Father. If not, then one cannot escape drawing the inevitable conclusion that not only were they three distinct and different persons but also their emotions and faculties relating to head and heart must have been different, separate and insulated from each other.

In trying to further our vision of the Trinity we should attempt to visualize the fact of three persons merging together or existing as merged together eternally as one. So far we have failed to see how they could have merged in their emotions and thought processes.

The only option left, therefore, is a merger in the body. It reminds us of a hydra headed monster on a different scale, mentioned in the Greek mythology, which possessed many heads that grew again when cut off. Of course, man cannot understand the true nature of God and how His attributes function within, but it is very easy and simple to believe in one single entity without specific areas to which certain functions are attributed and confined, like head, heart and kidneys etc. But the scenario of separate individual thoughts and feelings is certainly at variance with the afore-mentioned scenario of a single entity. It creates an image of God which is very difficult to believe and conceive for human beings, many of whom have lived long with Christian dogma without questioning it and have somehow shut their eyes to such glaring violations against the human intellect, supposedly created by God himself.

 

The role of the Holy Ghost next

Sin and atonement [last part]

PreviousSin and Atonement [Part – 6]

Meaning of Death in Relation to Christ

Having clearly understood the different options regarding the relative roles that the Divine and the Man in Jesus could have played, we try to comprehend the application of the word ‘death’ and its full meaning in relation to him.

If he died for three days and nights, then death has to be understood in terms of the soul having been severed from the body, and the soul departing. Which means that the soul must depart the body and break off its relationship so completely that only a very dead corpse is left behind. So far so good. Jesus was at last relieved of his imprisonment in the carnal body of a man. However, liberation from this imprisonment should not be considered a punishment at all. The return of the divine soul of the ‘Son’ to the same sublime state of existence cannot be treated in any way like ordinary human death. Human death is fearsome not because the soul leaves the body and severs the ties by gaining a new consciousness, but the horrors of death are mainly on the account of one’s permanently severing ties with many a dear ones left here on earth, and leaving behind one’s possessions and different objects of love. Many a times it so happens that a man who has nothing to live for pefers to die rather than live an empty life.

In the case of Jesus, the feeling of remorse could not have been present. For him the window of death was open only in one single direction, that of gain and not of loss. Why should his departure from the body be considered an extremely pitiable and agonizing experience? Again, if he died once and literally, not metaphorically, gave up the ghost, as the Christians would have us believe, then returning to the same body is the most unwise step attributed to him. Was he reborn when he returned to the body that he had abandoned during the hour of death? If this process is only to be described as revival or resurrection of Jesus, then the body should also have been eternalized. But what we read in the Bible is a completely different story. According to that story Jesus was resurrected from the dead by entering the same body in which he had been crucified and that was called his regaining of life. That being so, what would be the meaning of the act of his abandoning the body once again? Would that not be tantamount to a second death?

If the first departure from body was death, then most certainly the second time he is considered to have abandoned the human body, he should be declared eternally dead. When the soul abandons the body first time, you call it death; when it returns to the same body, you call it life after death. But what would you call it when the soul leaves the same body once again never to return—will it be called eternal death or eternal life according to the Christian jargon? It has to be eternal death and nothing more. Contradiction upon contradiction. A very nerve wrecking experience indeed!

If it is suggested that the body was not abandoned the second time, then we have the strange scenario in which God the Father exists as an infinite incorporeal spiritual being while the ‘Son’ remains trapped in the restricted confines of mortal existence.

Limited Suffering for Unlimited Sin

It may be suggested that it is not always the pangs of conscience which create a miserable state of mind and heart in those who are sensitive to their faults. On the other hand, intense sympathy for the sufferings of others may also create a life of agony for someone who is totally or partially innocent of crime, but has that sublime spiritual quality of suffering for the sake of others. That would also create a similitude of hell. Mothers suffer for their ailing babies. The human experience stands witness to the fact that sometimes for a permanently disabled child the entire life of the mother is turned into a living hell. So why cannot we concede to Jesus that noble quality of being able to suffer for the sake of others? Why not indeed. But why only three days and nights? Why not for his entire sojourn on earth and even before and after that. Noble people do not suffer only temporarily for a very limited period of hours or days. Their hearts do not rest in peace unless they see misery mitigated or alleviated entirely. The hell which we are considering, is not the prerogative of an innocent divine person only, it is a noble quality shared to some degree even by the beasts of the jungle for their near ones.

After a few more remarks I will rest this case, but I have one other important issue to briefly touch upon. The punishment prescribed by God for Jesus Christ, only lasted for three days and three nights. While the sinners for whom he was punished, had committed sins so horrible and for so long that according to the Bible, their punishment was to be eternal suffering in hell. So what sort of a just God was it that when it came to the punishment of those created by Him, people who were not His sons or daughters, they were to be punished eternally? But when it came to the punishment of His own ‘Son’, for sins he had voluntarily taken upon himself, suddenly the punishment was reduced. Only three days and three nights. No comparison whatsoever. If this is justice then let justice not be. How would God look at the conduct of human beings, He has Himself created with His right hand, if they dispense justice as they learned it from Him? Applying different measures to their own children and very different to those of others. Will God the Father watch this loyal imitation with ecstasy or horror? Very difficult indeed to answer.

What Did Atonement Change?

As far as the effect of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ in relation to the punishment of sin is concerned, we have already established that faith in Jesus Christ has in no way reduced the punishment of sin, prescribed by God, for Adam and Eve and their progeny. All human mothers still bear their children with the pains of labor and it is still with labor that man earns his bread. If we consider it from another angle, a broad comparison between the Christian and non-Christian world since the time of Jesus Christ. No believers in Christ can show a remarkable change, in any period of history, of their women delivering their children without pain and their men earning their bread without labor. They do not show any difference in this regard in comparison to the non-Christian world.

As far as the disposition to commit sins is concerned, the world of believers in Christ compared with the world of non-believers do not record any evidence that the dispensation to commit sin is totally obliterated among the category of believers in Christ. In addition to this, one may indeed wonder why having faith in God is considered so inferior to having faith in His ‘Son’. This is especially relevant to the time before this tightly kept, age old secret, (that God had a ‘Son’), was disclosed to mankind. Of course there were people who had faith in God and His Unity. Also innumerable people were born since Christ in every religion and land of the earth, who believed in God and His oneness. Why didn’t faith in God bear any influence on human crime and punishment? Again why could not God the Father display that nobility of suffering for the sake of sinners which His nobler ‘Son’ displayed? Most certainly the Son seems to possess higher moral values (God forbid!) than his less civilized Father. Is Divinity evolving and still in the process of attaining perfection, one may ask.

 

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Sin and atonement [Part – 6]

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Did God the Father Suffer As Well?

Coming to the nature of the ‘Son’, we cannot believe that he was thrown into Hell Fire, as that would mean an internal contradiction with himself. Returning to the basic concept of Christianity. It is said that God and the ‘Son’ are two persons but of the same nature and substance. It is impossible for one to go through an experience while the other does not share in it. How can we believe that one aspect of God, the ‘Son’, was being tormented, while God the Father remained unscathed. If He did not suffer, it would be tantamount to breaking the Unity of God. Three persons in one becomes even more inconceivable because the experiences of each constituent of Trinity have turned out to be so different and remote from each other that it appears impossible for one God to be in the raging fire of hell, and at the same time the other to remain perfectly aloof and untouched. There is no other choice for the Christians of today but either to sacrifice the Unity of God and believe in three different Gods, like the pagans of pre-Christianity such as the Romans and the Greeks, or they remain true to themselves and believe that God is one and as such, two aspects of God cannot undergo contradictory states. When a child suffers, it is impossible for the mother to remain calm and peaceful. She must suffer as well, sometimes more than the child. What was happening to God the Father when He made His ‘Son’ suffer the agony of three days in hell? What was happening to God the ‘Son’? Was he divided into two persons, with two forms and substances? One form suffering in hell and the other completely outside, not suffering at all? If God the Father was suffering then what was the need of creating the ‘Son’, when He himself could have suffered. So this is a very direct question. Why did He not just suffer for Himself? Why draw out such a difficult plan to resolve the problem of forgiveness?

The Punishment of Fire

Here, the question of hell to which, according to the Christian doctrine, Jesus was confined to, should be examined more closely. What sort of hell was it, was it the same hell we read about in the New Testament, which says:

The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (Matt 13:41–42)

Before we proceed further, it has to be very clearly understood what the New Testament means by the punishment of fire or the punishment of hell. Is it a fire which burns the soul or is it a carnal fire which consumes the body and thereby tortures the soul? Do the Christians believe that after death we will return to the same body which the soul left behind to disintegrate to earth and ashes, or will there be a new body created for each soul and the resurrected person would experience a sort of reincarnation?

If it is carnal fire and a corporeal punishment, then one has to extend one’s imagination to the limit of its tethers as to what may have happened in the case of Jesus Christ. Before being subjected to the Fire, was his soul re-imprisoned in the body of the man he had been haunting all his life on earth, or was he somehow relegated to an astral body? If the later is the case then that astral body would have been beyond the reach of the carnal fire of hell to scorch, punish or destroy. On the other hand if we accept the scenario that the body of the man he had occupied would be reconstructed for Jesus as a sort of medium through which he could suffer hell, then one cannot fail to notice another blow done to the principle of divine justice. Poor man, first of all he was practically hijacked for all his life by an alien soul but then as a reward for the hospitality forced upon him he would burn in hell for no crime of his own. The credit of his sacrifice being totally monopolized by the alien occupant within him. Again, what about the soul of that man or perhaps he did not have a soul of his own. If not, then the man in Jesus and the God in Jesus had to be one and the same person and the plea that Jesus acted sometimes by his human impulses and sometimes by divine Will, is reduced to sheer hocus-pocus. The only formula acceptable to any intellect is that one soul and one body equals one person. Two souls and one body is a bizarre idea which can only be entertained by those who believe in people being haunted by ghosts or similar things.

Sacrifice and Spiritual Bliss

If the second option is more acceptable to the Christian Theologists in that it assumes only the soul of Jesus to have entered hell and that hell to be a spiritual hell. If so, there seems to be no reason why we should reject this suggestion as nonsensical. However, the spiritual hell is only created by pangs of conscience or a sense of guilt. In the case of Jesus Christ, neither was applicable. When you accept the penalty of another’s crime, being innocent yourself, it is not pangs of conscience which are generated but quite the opposite. The soul of such a person should vibrate with a sense of nobility and self-sacrifice. Which would be tantamount to spiritual heaven rather than hell.

Now we turn to the question of the body that was occupied by Jesus and the meaning of death in relation to that body and also to the meaning of revival in the same context. To the best of our knowledge the body of Jesus Christ had to be an integral part of the ‘Sonship’ of Jesus. Otherwise, he would have no common meeting ground left to him for his divinity and humanity to merge upon and play distinctly different roles under certain conditions. At times we should see the man taking charge of affairs, provided he had a separate soul himself and at times we should observe the Divine asserting Himself and controlling the man’s faculties of head and heart. Again we emphasise that this can happen only if there are two distinct personalities locked up in a single being.

 

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Sin and atonement [Part – 5]

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Unwilling Sacrifice

Now let us turn to the act of the Crucifixion itself. Here we are confronted with another insoluble dilemma. Jesus, as we are so insistently told, offered himself voluntarily to God the Father and was made the scapegoat for the sins of all humanity, provided, of course, they believed in him. But when the time of acceptance of his wish approaches nigh and at last the glimmer of hope for sinful humanity is beginning to appear like the dawn of a new day, as we turn to Jesus expecting to observe his joy, his happiness and his ecstasy at this most eventful moment of human history, how profoundly disappointed and manifestly disillusioned we are. Instead of finding a Jesus impatiently awaiting the hour of jubilation what we see instead is a Jesus weeping and crying and praying and beseeching God the Father to take away the bitter cup of death from him. He severely reproached one of his disciples when he caught him in the act of dozing off after spending such a fateful long day and suffering through a dark gloomy night which bade ill for him and his holy master. The Biblical account of this incident goes as follows:

Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gesthemane, and said to them, ‘Sit here while I go over there and pray.’ He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, ‘My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.’ Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, ‘My father if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will but as you will.’

Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. ‘Could you men not keep watch with me for one hour?’ he asked Peter. ‘Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak’.

He went a second time and prayed, ‘My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.’ When he came back, he again found them sleeping because their eyes were heavy. So he left them and went away once more and prayed the third time, saying the same thing. (Matt 26:36–43)

Alas as the Christian story unveils itself, the prayers and beseeching of neither Jesus nor his disciples were accepted by God the Father and willy-nilly, despite his strong protestations, he was at last crucified. Was he the same person, the same prince of innocence and paragon of sacrifice who so bravely volunteered himself to take the burden of all of mankind’s sins on his shoulders, or was it a different person? His conduct, both at the hour of the Crucifixion and during the Crucifixion itself, strongly casts shadows of doubt, either on the identity of Jesus Christ or on the truth of the myth spun around his person. But of that later. Let us now return to our critical examination where we left it.

Some other questions which arise from the last cry of agony by Jesus Christ are as follows: Who uttered those deeply pathetic and touching words? Was it Jesus the man or was it Jesus the ‘Son’?

If it was Jesus the man who was abandoned, by whom? And why? If we accept this option, it would also have to be taken for granted that till the last, Jesus the man retained a single independent identity which could think and feel freely and individually. Did he die at the moment of parting of the soul of Jesus the ‘Son of God’ from the body of the man he had occupied? If so, why and how? If it was so and it was the body of the man which died after the soul of God deserted it, then the question would arise as to who got revived from the dead when the soul of God revisited the same body later on.

Again, this option would lead us to believe that it was not Jesus the ‘Son’ who was suffering but the person of Jesus the man who cried out in such agony and he was the one who suffered while Jesus the ‘Son’ looked on in a state of total indifference and apathy. Then how can he justify the claim that it was he, the ‘Son’, who suffered for the sake of humanity and not the man in him?

The other option is that we presume it was Jesus the ‘Son’ who cried out, while the man in him, perhaps hopeful to begin a new life for himself, watched on in uncertain expectancy of the realisation that along with the sacrifice of Jesus the ‘Son’, he, Jesus the man, whether he liked it or not, would also be slaughtered on the altar of his innocent cohabiter. What sense of justice ever motivated God to kill two birds with the same stone is perhaps another mystery.

If Jesus the ‘Son’ it was, and it was him indeed according to the general consensus of Christian churches, then the second question arising out of the answer of the first would be about the identity of the second party involved in that monologue of Jesus (Matt 26:39,42). We have two options open to us.

One, that the ‘Son’ was addressing the Father, complaining that he was abandoned in the hour of need. This inescapably leads us to believe that they were two different persons who did not coexist in a single mutually merged personality, equally sharing all attributes and putting them into play simultaneously with equal share. One appears to be the supreme arbiter, the all powerful possessor of the ultimate faculty of taking decisions. The other, the poor ‘Son’, seems to be entirely deprived or maybe temporarily dispossessed of all the domineering characters which his Father enjoyed. The central point which must be kept in focus is the fact that their opposite wills and wishes nowhere seem more at odds and at variance with each other than they were during the last act of the Crucifixion drama.

The second question is, would these two distinct persons, with individual thoughts, individual values and individual capacities, feel pain and agony if they were ‘two in one’ and ‘one in two’? So another question would require many a long dialogue between theologians regarding the possibility of God being able to suffer pain and punishment. Even if so, only half of God would suffer while the other half was incapable of doing so by design or by the compulsion of His nature. As we proceed further in the shadowy world of this twisted philosophy, light begins to get dimmer and dimmer and we find confusion heaped upon confusion.

Another problem is that whom was Christ addressing if he was God himself? When he addressed his father, he himself was an inseparable part of the Father, so we are told. So what was he saying and to whom? This question must be answered with a free conscience, without resorting to dogma. It becomes a dogma only when it cannot be explained in human terms. According to the Biblical statement, when Jesus was about to give up the ghost, he cried addressing God the Father: ‘Why have you abandoned me?’ Who had abandoned whom? Had God abandoned God?

Who Was Sacrificed?

The other problem we have to take note of is that the man in Jesus was not punished, nor by any logic should he have been punished because he had never opted to carry the load of humanity’s sin. This new element, entering into the debate, leads us to a very peculiar situation which we have not considered before. One is compelled to wonder about the relationship of the man in Jesus with the inherited propensity to commit sin, common to all the progeny of Adam and Eve. At best one can bring oneself to believe that in the duality of the ‘Divine Son’ and the man occupying the same body, it was only the ‘Divine Son’ who was innocent. But what about the man living alongside him. Was he also born out of genes and character provided by God? If so, then he should behave like the divine in Jesus and no excuse would be acceptable if he goes remiss in this or that, with the plea that he only did so because he was a man. If there was nothing of God in him, that is, in the man in Jesus, then we must concede that he was simply an ordinary human being, perhaps half a human being. Yet that human person, amalgamated with Jesus, has to be human enough to inherit the disposition to sin. If not, why not?

Obviously there is no gain in saying that being a man distinctly separate from his divine partner, he must have sinned independently with the entire responsibility of sin upon his human shoulders. This scenario will not be complete without presenting Jesus the ‘Son of God’, dying, not so unselfishly after all, for the sake of humanity but his prime concern might have been for his half brother, the man in him.

All this is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to digest intellectually. But from our point of view there is no problem. It was the innocent person Jesus the man, without there being any duality in him, who uttered this cry of astonishment and agony.

The Dilemma of Jesus

Let me once again make it clear that I do not disbelieve in Jesus but have profound respect for him as a messenger of God with exceptional sacrifices to his credit. I understand Jesus to be a holy man, going through a period of great trial. But as the narration of the act of Crucifixion begins to unfold and come to a close we are left with no choice but to believe that Jesus did not volunteer himself for death upon the cross. The night before the day his enemies attempted to murder him by crucifixion we hear him praying all night, along with his disciples, because the truth of his claim was at stake. It is said in the Old Testament that an imposter who attributes things to God which He had never said, would be hanged on a tree and die upon it an accursed death.

But a prophet who presumes to speak in my name anything I have not commanded him to say, or a prophet who speaks in the name of other gods, must be put to death. (Deuteronomy 18:20)

And if a man has committed a crime punishable by death and he is put to death, and you hang him on a tree, his body shall not remain all night upon the tree, but you shall bury him the same day, for a hanged man is accursed of God. (Deutronomy 21:22–23)

Jesus knew that if this happened, the Jews would celebrate with ecstasy and proclaim him to be an imposter whose falsehood had finally been proved beyond a shadow of doubt on the authority of the divine Scriptures. This was the reason why he was so anxious to escape the bitter cup of death; not out of cowardice but out of fear that his people would be misled and would fail to recognise his truth if he died upon the cross. All night he prayed so piteously and helplessly that to read the account of his agony and misery is heart rending. But as this real life drama proceeds to a close, the climax of his emotional distress, dejection and hopelessness is fully displayed in his last cry:

‘Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachtani?’—which means, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’

-Matthew 27:46

One must notice that it was not agony alone expressed in that cry but obviously there was mingled with it an element of surprise, bordering on horror. After he was brought back to consciousness, with the help of some of his dedicated disciples who applied to his wounds an ointment they had prepared before Crucifixion and which contained all the ingredients needed for mitigating pain and healing wounds, he must have been so wonderfully and happily surprised and his faith in a loving true God would have been reinstated and revitalised in a manner seldom experienced by man in its intensity and boundlessness.

The fact that the ointment had been prepared in advance constitutes a strong proof that Jesus’ disciples were indeed expecting him to be delivered from the cross alive, very much in need of medicinal treatment.

From the above, it becomes comfortingly clear that the concept of Inherited Sin and of Crucifixion are based only on the conjecture and wishful thinking of Christian theologians at a later date. It is quite likely that it was born out of some pre-Christian myths of a similar nature, which, when applied to the circumstances of Jesus Christ, tempted them to read close similarities between the two and create a similar myth. However, whatever the mystery or paradox, as we see it, there is no evidence whatsoever that the Christian philosophy of Sin and Atonement was based on anything which Jesus might have said or done or taught. He could never have preached anything so contrary to, and so diametrically opposed to human intellect.

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Sin and atonement [Part – 1]

PreviousThe son-ship of Jesus Christ

 

Now we turn to the second very important article of Christian faith. I must clarify however that all Christians do not believe exactly in what follows. Even some Church leaders have deviated from the stiff dogmatic attitude of the Church. Even so, the philosophy of ‘Sin and Atonement’ is a fundamental principle of orthodox Christian faith.

The first component of the Christian understanding of Sin and Atonement is that God is just, and exercises natural justice. He does not forgive sins without exacting retribution; as it would be against the dictates of absolute justice. It is this particular attribute of God that makes necessary the Christian version of atonement.

The second component is that man is sinful because Adam and Eve sinned. As a result their progeny began to inherit sin, as if it was infused into their genes and, ever since, all children of Adam are born congenital sinners.

The third component of this dogma is that a sinful person cannot atone for another person’s sins; only a sinless person can do so. Based on this, it becomes evident why, according to Christian understanding, no prophet of God, however good or near perfection he may have been, could have cleansed the mankind of sin or was able to rid them of it and its consequences. Being a son of Adam, he could not have escaped the element of congenital sin with which he was born.

This is a simple outline of the entire doctrine. Here is the solution advanced by Christian theologists.

The Atonement of Mankind

To solve this apparently unsolvable problem, God conceived an ingenious plan. It is not clear as to whether he consulted his ‘Son’ or if they both conceived the plan simultaneously or even if it was entirely the idea of the ‘Son’, and then accepted by God the Father. The features of this plan unfolded at the time of Christ as follows. Two thousand years ago the ‘Son of God’, who literally shared eternity with Him, was born to a human mother. As the ‘Son of God’, he combined within him the perfect traits of a human being as well as those of God the Father. Next we are told that a pious and chaste lady by the name of Mary, was chosen to be the mother of the ‘Son of God’. She conceived Jesus in partnership with God. In that respect, being a literal ‘Son of God’, Jesus was born without sin, yet somehow he retained his human character and entity. Thus he volunteered himself to take the burden of the entire sin of those of mankind who would believe in him and accept him as their saviour. By this clever device, it is claimed, God did not have to compromise His eternal attribute of absolute justice.

Remember that according to this modus operandi, man would not go unpunished, however sinful he may be. God would still be able to exact retribution from the sinful without compromising His sense of justice. The only difference between this and the previous position, which was responsible for this dramatic change, is the fact that it would be Jesus who would be punished and not the sinful sons and daughters of Adam. It would be the sacrifice of Jesus which would ultimately be instrumental in atoning for the sins of the children of Adam.

However strange and bizarre this logic may seem to be, this is exactly what is professed to have happened. Jesus volunteered himself and was consequently punished for the sins he had never committed.

The Sin of Adam and Eve

Let us re-examine the story of Adam from the beginning. Not a single step in the above doctrine can be accepted by human conscience and logic.

Adam and Eve expelled

Adam and Eve expelled from heaven

Firstly, we have the idea that because Adam and Eve sinned, so their progeny became genetically and eternally polluted with sin. In contrast to this, the science of genetics reveals that human thoughts and actions, be they good or bad, even if persistently adhered to during the entire lifetime of a person, cannot be transferred to and encoded into the genetic system of human reproduction. A lifespan is too short a period to play any role in bringing about such profound changes. Even the vices of a people, generation after generation, or good deeds for that matter, cannot be transferred to the progeny as genetic characters. Perhaps millions of years are required for etching human genes with new characteristics.

Not only this, even if by a most absurd and unacceptable extension of one’s imagination one could conceive of such a bizarre happening, the contrary will have to be accepted by the same logic. This would mean that if a sinful person repented and came out clean at the end of the day, then that act should also be recorded in the genetic system; effectively cancelling out the effect of the previous sin. Scientifically this may not happen, but certainly there is far more logic in this balanced picture than imagining that it is only the propensity to sin which can be genetically encoded and not the disposition to do good.

Secondly, by attempting to resolve the problem of Adam by proposing that sin is genetically transferred to the future generations of Adam, all that has been achieved is the total demolition of the very foundation on which the Christian doctrine of ‘Sin and Atonement’ is based. If God is absolutely Just, then where is the sense of justice in eternally condemning the entire progeny of Adam and Eve for the transient sin they committed and repented? A sin for which they themselves were heavily punished and driven out of heaven in such disgrace. What manner of justice would it be for God, who even after having more than punished Adam and Eve for their personal sins, still did not have His passion of revenge abated until He had condemned the entire human race to a helpless degradation of being born as congenital sinners? What chance did the children of Adam have to escape sin? If parents make a mistake why should their innocent children suffer for that mistake eternally?

That being so, again what distorted sense of justice does God claim to possess and to enjoy, to punish a people who are designed to act sinfully, however much they abhor sin? Sin is made a part and parcel of their mechanism. There is no chance any more for a child of Adam to remain innocent. If sin was a crime, then logic demands that it should be a crime of the Creator and not that of the creation. In that case, what justice could require the punishment of the innocent, for the crimes of the perpetrator?

How different from the Christian understanding of sin and its consequences is the proclamation of the Holy Quran, which says:

No one can bear the burden of another.
-(35:18)

God requires not of any one that which is beyond his capacity.
-(2:286)

Compared to the Christian concept of Sin and Atonement these declarations of the Holy Quran are pure music to the soul.

Let us now turn to the Biblical account of what actually happened at the time of the sin of Adam and Eve and the consequences that ensued the punishment. According to Genesis, God accepted their apology only partially and an eternal punishment was meted out to them, prescribed as follows:

To the woman he said, ‘I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing; with pain you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband and he will rule over you.’
To Adam he said, ‘Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat of it,’ ‘Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. By sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it were you taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.’

-(Genesis 3:16–19)

Mankind existed long before Adam and Eve came to be born. Western scientists themselves discovered the remains of many a prehistoric man and labelled them under different distinctive titles. Neanderthal man is perhaps the most widely known of them. They lived between 100,000 to 35,000 years ago, mostly in the regions of Europe, Near East and Central Asia. A carcass of a fully developed human being has been discovered, who happened to roam the earth about 29,000 years before Adam and Eve are known to have begun their short-lived sojourn in paradise. At that time, human beings were physically just like us and lived in Europe, Africa and Asia, and later during the Ice Age they spread to the Americas as well. Again in Australia, the authentic cultural history of Aborigines is traceable up to 40,000 years ago.

Compared to these relatively recent times, a skeleton of a female from Hedar in Ethiopia has been discovered which is 2.9 million years old. Now according to the Biblical chronology, Adam and Eve lived around six thousand years ago. One may look back in wonderment at the reported history of human beings, or Homo Sapiens as they are titled in scientific jargon.

Human Suffering Continues

Having read the Biblical account of how Adam and Eve were punished, one cannot help wondering if the pain and throes of labour were unknown to woman until the beginning of the era of Adam and Eve. A scientist will be hard to come by, who believes in such fantasies. Again, we have plenty of irrefutable evidence that man, long before Adam and Eve, had occupied all the continents of the world, even remote Pacific islands and had always laboured hard to survive. Therefore, to say that Adam and Eve were the first to commit a sin and because of that, painful child-birth was ordained as punishment, is totally proven wrong by the study of life. Even animals, who are much lower in the order of life, give birth in pain. If one watches a cow giving birth to a calf, her suffering seems similar to the pain of a human female. Many such animals, we know, inhabited the earth millions and millions of years before Adam and Eve.

To earn ones livelihood with labour is common to man, but not distinctive at all. Women also labour for their earnings and livelihood. Before that, every specie of life earns its livelihood through labour. This fact is the key motivator in the evolution of life. The struggle for existence is perhaps the very first distinctive mark of life which separates it from the world of the inanimate. It is a natural phenomenon, with nothing whatsoever to do with sin.

Again, if this be the punishment prescribed as a consequence of Adam and Eve’s sin, then one wonders what would happen after Atonement? If Jesus Christ atoned for the sins of the sinful human beings, was the punishment prescribed for the Sin abolished after the Crucifixion? Did those who believed in Jesus Christ as the ‘Son of God’, if they were women, cease to have painful childbirth? Did the believing men start earning their livelihood without exerting manual labour? Did the propensity to sin cease to pass on to the future generations and innocent children started being given birth to? If the answer to all of these questions were to be ‘yes,’ then of course there would be some justification in seriously contemplating the Christian philosophy of Sin and Atonement. But Alas, the answer to all these questions are no, no and no. If nothing seems to have changed since the Crucifixion, both in the Christian and non-Christian worlds, then what would be the meaning of Atonement?

Even after Jesus Christ the sense of common justice continues to dictate to human beings all over the world that if any person commits a sin, punishment of that sin has to be given to that person alone and to none else. Every man and woman must suffer the consequences of their sins by themselves. Children are always born innocent. If this is not the truth then God’s attribute of Justice is thrown overboard.

We as Muslims believe that all divine books are based on eternal truth and none can make any claims contrary to that. When we come across inconsistencies and contradictions in any so-called divinely revealed book, our attitude is not that of total denial and rejection but that of cautious and sympathetic examination. Most of the statements of the Old Testament and the New Testament, which we find at variance with the truth of nature, we either try to reconcile by reading some underlying cryptic or metaphoric message, or reject part of the text as the work of human hands rather than that of God. While Christianity itself was true, it could not have contained any distortions, unacceptable facts or beliefs giving a lie to nature. That is why we started not with the textual examination but with the fundamentals themselves, which through centuries of consensus have become indisputable components of Christian philosophy. Rudimentary among them are the Christian understanding of Sin and Atonement. I would much rather believe that someone, somewhere during the history of Christianity, misunderstood things and tried to interpret them in the light of his knowledge and misled the following generations because of that.

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