Nonbelievers Need Help Understanding The Easter Story.

Even though the fastest growing branch of Christianity, the Emergent Church, downplays the crucifixion story, it is told thousands of time all over the world.  It’s hard to understand what it is supposed to mean.

The details of the story change, depending on where you read about it in the Bible, and the entire premise of the story does not hang together.  For example, why did the Jesus character say he died to excuse sin and then get himself killed by destroying other peoples’ property?  It seems like he should have died heroically defending a sinner.

Easter has behind it several assumptions that are hard to accept.  It starts with the assumption every baby is born a sinner.  Without this assumption, Easter is lost.

That is, if there is a person everyone agrees has lived an exemplary life, one without a known sin worth mentioning, there would be nothing for the Jesus to forgive.  Without something for forgive, there would have been no reason die.  So, it is necessary to claim babies are sinners before they have sinned.

Another dilemma of the crucifixion/resurrection story is the martyrdom.  Instead of permanent martyrdom,  there is reward by coming to life again.  Normally, martyrdom and reward are opposites.  But, in the Bible they happen together.

It would be most understandable if the Easter story were told as it actually is.  It is a story borrowed from other religions with only the names of the gods changed.

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68 Responses

  1. Wanna B Sure

    Jon; In your last blog, and post @9:27, last paragraph; “If they never encountered religion, as in every president ended every speach with “God bless you, God bless America”, It would not ocure to me to write this blog”. Today’s blog has no content whatsoever or relationship with government involvement or intrusion of Christian content. Thus nullifying your 9;27, and revealing your desire only to discredit Christianity, with, or without political/secular infringement. Your favorite hot button topics are nothing more than straw men. Your sincerity rings hollow.

    1. Wanna B Sure

      Jon; Oh yes, and I can’t believe a word you say now.I felt this all along, but your own words prove it. Thank You. Bye.

      1. Formerly Fargo Bob

        Wanna B Sure’s words ring very hollow. More likely he/she just can’t stand the fact that religion, and Christianity in particular, are no longer getting the free pass they once did.

          1. Formerly Fargo Bob

            Oh, I thought you were leaving, since you’ve become so disenchanted with Jon’s opinions. I guess you didn’t mean what you wrote. Sorry I took you at your word.

          2. Wanna B Sure

            I was, I was talking to Jon, but since you butted in, I thought I would return the favor. You have a problem with continuity of thought.

          3. Formerly Fargo Bob

            Sorry, Wanna B Sure, but you are the one who said you were leaving. Is that not what you meant to say? Apparently, you have determined that Jon may only speak about government endorsement of religion because he mentioned that as his main reason for starting this blog. You may not like it, but he is free to expound on any affiliated subject he chooses. And, by the way, I thought you were leaving.

          4. Wanna B Sure

            And he is free to double speak, but you are not free to determine when I am done talking to you.

        1. Formerly Fargo Bob

          And I am free to assert that you are not really upset that Jon is not solely discussing government endorsement of religion, but that you are bent out of shape that Christian beliefs are being questioned and examined critically from a non-Christian point of view.

          1. Formerly Fargo Bob

            And you are using the fact that Jon is not limiting himself to that one topic to avoid responding to the points he makes in this particular blog post. For centuries, Christians have punished, persecuted and harassed those who did not accept their views. What has changed is that non-theists of all stripes are no longer willing to quietly accept that treatment.

          2. Formerly Fargo Bob

            What I’m actually seeing is the inability to respond substantively either to what Jon said or I have said. I’m afraid you’re the one who’s “out of context,” whatever that is supposed to mean in this interaction.

          3. Wanna B Sure

            So now it is a power play rather than the topic. Any other non contextual seque you wish to exercise? I expect some. You are even more slippery than Jon.

          4. Wanna B Sure

            At least when shown to be in error, Jon would man up, even when we disagreed. I don’t expect that from you by your tone.

          5. Formerly Fargo Bob

            You thought you were making some outstanding point that Jon was being dishonest by not limiting himself solely to the topic of government endorsement of religion. Your response was to say you can’t trust a word Jon says and that you were leaving this blog as a result. Please don’t think your faux outrage is fooling anybody. You’re still here, so I have to assume you don’t mean what you say.

          6. Formerly Fargo Bob

            And based on the petulant comments you made in your initial post, you seem awfully afraid of Jon’s ability to “discredit Christianity.” I’ve seen your reaction countless times from Christians. “Oh, you’re questioning my beliefs. You must be trying to take away my faith.” One guy on one little blog dares to question Christian beliefs, and suddenly you think you’re on a mission from God.

          7. Wanna B Sure

            I don’t believe I would have said your quotes. Now you are inventing for the sake of a false argument. “Discredit Christianity” yes, and I think that is obvious. But the; “You must be trying to take away my faith”. BS.

          8. Formerly Fargo Bob

            Why would it bother you if Jon were in fact trying to “discredit Christianity,” as you asserted in your first post? Surely, Jon’s postings couldn’t affect your own faith, right? Perhaps you wouldn’t have said what I put in quotes, but I’ve heard it countless times over the years. And your intention was obviously to discredit Jon and somehow nullify the content of his criticisms of Christianity.

          9. Formerly Fargo Bob

            I’ve gone along this far to see if your reasoning and debating style would improve, and it hasn’t. You started this whole thread with what you thought was a great “gotcha” moment that you thought would put Jon in his place. I then called you on it. You’ve shown that you can neither substantively respond to Jon’s content or refute my interpretation of your intentions. Most importantly, you do not debate honestly.

          10. Wanna B Sure

            “Debate honestly”??? ” Perhaps you wouldn’t have said what I put in quotes, but I’ve heard it countless times over the years”. Your words. Nothing else need be said.

          11. Formerly Fargo Bob

            I have read everything you posted here and what Jon posted previously that you were referring to. Your points are no more convincing and your argumentation no more logical because of it. What you imagined to be your great “caught the atheist” moment is nothing but hot air. Perhaps you should ask yourself why you’re so concerned about an atheist blog that no one is forcing you to read. Nor did anyone force you to respond to my comments.

          12. Wanna B Sure

            Missed the point yet I see. And all I was using were Jon’s words. Not a “gotcha” as you assert, but a clear contradiction. If he got- got, so be it. His words, not mine. You must be the Swiss Guard of Jon’s site. Love the colors.

          13. Formerly Fargo Bob

            Sorry, Wannabe, but you found no such contradiction. All Jon did was state the main reason he was inspired to start this blog. Nowhere did he state that would be the only topic of discussion. For some reason, you think catching him in this alleged “contradiction” would have been some great coup against atheism and atheists. You think if he “got got” that would somehow constitute a defeat of Jon’s ideas. It’s been instructive sparring with you — I’ll know not to bother in the future.

          14. Wanna B Sure

            Wasn’t your first counter opinion a response to my first comment? Yes it was. You were free not to respond. Seems as though you have the cart ahead of the horse.

          15. Wanna B Sure

            So now we come with the play of names. Then you find no contradiction. (Jon’s own words). Is that how to debate? Is that what they learnt you in the debatin skool? I’m familiar with your style of “sparring”. Addition ,seque, twist, spin, misqoute, misrepresent. +++

          16. Wanna 4:30 I clearify why my statement was correct about starting this blog because religion is in government. I originally encountered the Freethinkers in our first lawsuit against our City, here, involving the Ten Commandments being on public property. From that experience I evenutally joined the Freethinkers and later started this blog. Thus, the blog is here because of religion in government. The
            blog continues as its title states, “Thoughts of a Freethinker.”

            The same thing gave birth to a famous organization, American Atheists. Madeline O’hare had to go to court to stop prayer in her son’s school. As a result, she started American Atheists. AA became the premiere publisher of athiest literature for several years on a broad range of topics, not restricted to church and state.

            While I would not be here blogging without church butting into state, I’m enjoying it and am glad you and others post here.

    2. Wanna 1:18 “Today’s blog has no content whatsoever or relationship with government involvement or intrusion of Christian content.”

      Good observation. I would reiterate, if I never heard of saw religion infused into government and politics, I would not write this blog. Now that I’m writing the blog, I write about parts of the faith I find curious. Wouldn’t you agree, the cross story would make more sense if the author would have had the Jesus character killed defending the life of a sinner?

      If you don’t want to incorporate my suggestions into the cross story, there is no obligation.

      1. The traffic of comments is so large here, which in a good thing, I’ve started a new policy. When readers make one or two sentence troll comments but do so with a fake email address, I am sending them to spam. Obviously, I don’t mind criticism, but cluttering up the site with insults from shadow writers makes it harder to follow back and forth arguments. Readers can heap on criticism, but they need an address.

        1. entech

          Jon, you mean that you don’t mind being described as a turd in the punchbowl of life as long as you know who is doing the describing.
          Sounds reasonable to me.

  2. Formerly Fargo Bob

    What I don’t get about the crucifixation story is why christians have used it for centuries to persecute jews. Since Jesus’s death is the whole point, it seems illogical to attack jews as “christ-killers.” In the context of the biblical story, it seems to me that they were just helping god’s plan come to fruition. There wouldn’t have been much of a story if Jesus hadn’t died and instead lived to a ripe old age and ended up in the Jerusalem Home for Old Messiahs.

  3. Brad

    There are a whole lot of things about the Christian story that makes no sense. Number one, it makes no sense that an all powerful, all knowing God would find it necessary to put a “savior” amongst us to save us, and that it would be necessary for him to be brutally slaughtered for this to happen.

    1. Formerly Fargo Bob

      It would seem to me that a “savior” would be necessary only because of a design flaw on the part of that same “all-powerful, all-knowing God.” I mean, he tried wiping out most of the life on Earth, and that didn’t rid us of the design flaw. Then he tried sacrificing himself to himself to make up for the fact that he designed flawed human beings capable of independent thought who didn’t do everything just the way he wanted. Maybe just one more really outstanding sacrifice will do the trick.

  4. At Fault

    It is impossible to separate religion from government or government from religion. Religion is the embodiment of faith. Faith is acknowledging truths without proof and acting on those truths. The government would have us act on what they believe is true, based on the idea that mankind, by majority vote or representative bodies, knows the truth. When one realizes the God is consistent and unwavering, the choice on who to follow – God or Government – is quite clear. The issue is the plethora of religious faiths pointing to or claiming inconsistent gods. Jon Lindgren claims to hold unerring truth in atheism; simply another form of self-love.

    1. At Fault 12:06 Thank you for the first time post. I hope you return and post again.

      “Jon Lindgren claims to hold unerring thruth in atheism; simply another form of self-love.”

      Really, I hope we all have enough self love, i. e., self esteem, to feel we have a legimate voice to be heard. The thing atheists don’t have is the belief they are somehow special enough they don’t have to die. Christians are the ones who think in this, somewhat lofty and centered on self, way.

      Thanks again for posting.

      1. Wanna B Sure

        Jon; Re. “The thing atheists don’t have is the belief they are somehow special enough they don’t have to die. Christians are the ones who think in this , somewhat lofty and centered on self, way”. I can see why you get the impression that this is so. Those in the pietism camp do seem to give that impression. However, within historic orthodoxy, this is not so. In context, Grace, (undeserved favor) is not so arrogant. It is the acknowlegment of the inability of self to do or to be anything other than helplesness in being lofty or better. It is awareness of total helplness where that “undeserved favor” steps in and is recieved, (not gotten) in humility. Grace is greatly misunderstood and poorly applied by many on both sides of the argument. Grace is a condition, not a method, or a weapon.

        1. Wanna 1:26 “Grace, (undeserved favor) is not so arrogant.”

          I’ll grant you that. It’s just an atheist (I can’t speak for all) does not think he is important enough to be granted “grace”, or anything else, by a giant creator figure because there is no such thing. The human is seen as part of the environment, like a tree or blade of grass. In my own view, the notion humans have dominion over all was a way to make humans feel more important than they are, and make those who said or wrote it popular enough to gain control.

          1. Dustin Metzger

            All humans are important enough to know God, or he wouldn’t have created us. Even you, Jon.

          2. Dustin 1:46 “All humans are important enought to know God, or he wouldn’t have created us. Even you, Jon.”

            That’s my point, the belief that you, Dustin, believe you are that important. I don’t think I’m that important–I think I was “created” by my parents and my ancient ancestors by evolution.

            That said, I’m sure you are a pleasant person and I would not find you “egotistical”. It’s just that in your religious views, you have some need to see yourself in a different way than I see myself.

    2. entech

      Faith is acknowledging truths without proof and acting on those truths.
      Without proof how can you know that “your truths” are actually true. You say that governments have “what they believe is true” and Jon “claims to to have truth in atheism”.

      Similarly what you regard as your own truths are just your beliefs with no greater claim than those of Jon or government.

      With the plethora of faiths how can you say which faith has the truth, if you reject polytheism then by definition there can only be one god. How do you know that yours is the one consistent and unwavering god.

  5. Dustin Metzger

    “Christians are the ones who think in this, somewhat lofty and centered on self, way. ”

    Some Christians think in “lofty” or in a “centered on self way”, but so do some non-Christians. But please don’t proclaim how Christians think, when you aren’t a Christian. Your blog clearly shows that you have no idea how Christians think.
    True Christian faith has nothing to do with “not dieing”. Christian faith embraces death on earth. It is all about spending eternity with God our creator in Heaven.

    1. Formerly Fargo Bob

      Dustin, we atheists have spent our lives being told by christians how we think, i.e. “You’re an atheist because you just want to sin and have no morals,” to give just one example. Atheists have a lifetime of experience being exposed to how christians think and argue. We live in a religion-saturated country, so to suggest we don’t have any idea how christians think is rather silly. The bottom line is not that we don’t know how you think, it’s that we don’t think like you do. We don’t accept extraordinary claims made by religion, but you do. That is your choice. It is our choice to comment on those claims and why they should be rejected.

  6. Dustin Metzger

    Jon, no one can help you understand the “Easter story” except yourself. Until you can accept that you aren’t the center of your universe, and that the one true God of Abraham is, the “Easter story” will be whatever you make it to be.

    1. entech

      For the most part the original descendents of Abraham, the Jews, don’t understand the Easter story either. I doubt that most religious Jews believe your three in one entity is the “ONE” true God of Abraham either.

      1. Henry

        entech: “don’t understand the Easter story……I doubt that most religious Jews believe your three in one entity”

        They should re-read their Torah.

        1. entech

          Henry, you got it right for once, Their Torah.
          It is their Covenant and their tradition, they don’t need to re-read you need to stop re-interpreting along the lines of the apostate Saul/Paul.
          The God of Abraham is the God of the Jews and the law was given to Moses is for all time not a word to be added nor a word to be taken away.

          1. Wanna B Sure

            Entech; It isn’t Paul the Jews rejected, it was the New Covenant initiated by Christ, in his blood, as mentioned in Matthew. Paul’s; “A stumbling block to the Jews, and foolishness to the Greek”,( Gentiles). only clarifies the division. Those Jews that didn’t join “The Way”, stuck with their Tradition, and rejected The Christ. In that you are right. Today many Jews reject the Tradition, but enjoy the cultural aspects. Small t.

  7. Wolfy32

    “It is a story borrowed from other religions with only the names of the gods changed.”

    Well, I find issue with asserting your opinion as fact. There’s no more proof that your statements are fact than saying that christ died and rose from the dead is a fact. Faith is believing something unprovable with tangible evidence. We can neither prove nor disprove the Easter story. So, discrediting it as fact is a bold move.

    That said, I’ll give credence to your words. I have had issue with original sin, because it implies humanity is corrupt and shouldn’t exist and there’s this sense of beating ourselves up because we’re vile for existing.

    If you like reading (large novels) I would highly reccomend Terry Goodkind’s Legend of the seeker fantasy series. I suspect Terry Goodkind is an Athiest. However, he tackled the issue of humans are corrupt and shouldn’t celebrate anything they do, because they’re wrong / evil. Opened my eyes to realizing that maybe humanity is something that should be celebrated, we’ve been through a lot and we’re still amazing creatures.

    That said, the original crime was disobedience. God said don’t do something we did it anyways. I suspect the crime is a metaphorical crime. I don’t think it was for eating a peace of fruit. We ate from the tree of knowledge I believe. I’ve often thought of that as we became sentient. I suspect a diversion in human development was considered something we shouldn’t have done. Being we have free will, God said, fine, you want to go down this path of development, that’s o.k, but you’re going to know the shame of your crime forever.

    You have to remember that the society / culture around the time of Christ (prior to Christ) was sacraficing everything from animals to people to God(s) to appease the God(s). So, having one person take the fall for all of humanity forever forward saved a lot of animals lives. Even from a cultural perspective the impact of every family not giving a blood sacrafice / offering had to be huge. It had to improve society greatly. Imagine, if Christ hadn’t been a sacrafice and things kept going as they were, Jon, you and I might still be sacraficing animals to appease some nameless God. Christ’s death was a huge Dramatic change for the society of the day. Blood sacrafices were over.

    As to the reward of resurrection? How is that a reward? There’s much theorizing that while Christ was dead for those 3 days he went to hell and freed the lost souls captured there, or came to America and influenced the Native Americans. Maybe spent years with the native Americans and other societies across the world in those 3 days of being dead.

    There’s nothing biblical or nonbiblical that supports any of those theories. However, there are stories that resemble Christ in native American literature. Whether that’s just Christian influences on their culture or an untainted culutre that shows documentation of a christ like figure in their community, I don’t know.

    The truth is that no one knows really, whether he was rewarded, or he just reverted to his core being. The desciples didn’t even recognize him after he came back from the dead. That kinda tells me there was a transformation. What type, I don’t know.

    1. Wolfy32 2:22 “However, there are stories that resemble Christ in native American literature. Whether that’s just Christian influence on their culture or an untainted culture that shows documentation of a christ like figure in their community, I don’t know.”

      I don’t know about the American native literature you are referring to. I just know of beliefs of indigenous peoples all over the globe, and assume American it is true of American indigenous people as well. The story of a super human who is persecuted, killed by enemies and overcomes death has been a part of religions since this stuff has been written on cave walls in in stones. Political leaders have always tried to slide over close to those mythical figures.

      1. Wolfy32

        “Political leaders have always tried to slide over close to those mythical figures.”

        Interesting you say it that way. The Pharaos and other Jewish leaders shied away from the Christ. He was rejected by the very people he represented. Granted, in one of my Catholic University courses the question was brought up, what would happen if Christ were alive today instead of when he was?

        Well he’d be dismissed as a fraud, a fake, and completely rejected, most likely he’d be taken in by a government agency for medical research, DNA mapping / sequencing, and a bunch of tests to see if he’s even human or not. I don’t think the government or anyone else would take it too lightly to see a man walking on water without the help of any flotation devices.

        So, is it really any different that he was instead just put on a fake trial and crucified? We’d crucify him today, more or less, not literally, but, he’d be removed and hidden away. It definately wouldn’t be a public thing.

        Lastly, if leaders do side with mythical figures for increased esteem by the people, then that means people in general desire something to give them hope, hope for something better than they have today. How many kingdoms would have failed because a serf lost hope and stopped farming? If all the serfs and fiefdoms stopped farming because they all lost hope in anything better than what they had. They were strung along with little carrots of promises of a better life if they just work a little harder day by day to earn their freedom.

        People need something to believe in. It’s ingrained in us.

        1. Wolfy32 5:16 “..then that means people in general desire something to give them hope…If all the serf and fiefdoms stopped farming because they lost all hope..They were strung along with little carrots of promises of a better life…”

          Exactly how many if not most atheists see the history of humans. Walking around, gathering food while trying to escape being eaten, they might have not found any food for long periods. Those with hope, who might have envisioned a mythical god either in the sky, or, more likely in wild animals, kept going while those who could not find hope in the spiritual being, died out. This is one theory of human evolution, people who thought in a particular way, in mythical gods, were more likely to survive and that is why that thinking it is so common today.

          I’m not saying it is never helpful, some people need the god figure. I’m saying there is not evidence of a literal god, it is more likely a product of the mind, and we don’t need it to conduct our common affairs, government, today.

          1. Wolfy32

            It could be a product of our mind. It could also be that we were created / instilled with an innate desire for something greater than ourselves.

            Maybe the race that created us long since died out and we are alone but we were engineered in a lab somewhere as a last ditch effort to save their own species.

            The fact is well, there’s nothing proving that God does or does not exist. Some would say the fact we’re alive at all, proves it exists. How can we prove / disprove something so simple yet so complex. Maybe the Bible, the Kuran, Torah, are all expressions of human understanding of something that is so beyond our understanding?

            How can we possibly understand something so complex such as a being that could have the technology, know how, and power to create an entire universe? Then again, as I pointed out previously within a 100 years we could have the same technology / know how. So, how can you prove there is no God or being that set us into motion?

            There’s so much we don’t know that I would think it’d be pretty arrogant of us as a race to assume that there is or is not a God. And if we have no evidence how can we assert that either of us is wrong? Other than for us to hope that we’re each right even though that is probably the only option that’s impossible.

    1. Buzz 6:33 “Alcoholics Annonymous will not be please with your copyright infringement.”

      I counting on you, my friend Buzz, not to tell Alocholic Annonymous I was too lazy the write out American Atheists more than once in a post and used “AA”. 🙂

  8. dan

    In regards to Fargo Bob’s statement, “Perhaps you should ask yourself why you’re so concerned about an atheist blog that no one is forcing you to read. Nor did anyone force you to respond to my comments.” Perhaps Fargo Bob, you should ask yourself why athiests as soo interested in discrediting religion that they spend their lives away blogging about it. I am not forced to read this blog but a blog is an interactive space, allowing visitors to leave comments. So I will if the host allows for it. Don’t forget, blogging is exercising your first Admendment rights guaranteed by the U.S. constitution written by people, primarly composed of believers. It’s kind of ironic that their belief in God allows you to discredit God…but that’s your protected right.

    1. Formerly Fargo Bob

      Dan, the religious create entire television networks to broadcast their message, and American televangelists broadcast their shows around the world. I hardly think that Jon’s little blog here is the equivalent, nor does it constitute “spending his life away blogging about it.” The religious expect to dominate the discussion and attempt to stifle criticism of their beliefs.

      Why do we comment on religion and its effects? Perhaps one of the main reasons is that religious belief has been and continues to be used as justification for discrimination against particular groups that religion disapproves of. It also encourages people to believe extraordinary claims with no evidence, and then labels that a virtue or gift from god. It focuses people’s attention on a mythical afterlife and distracts from addressing the very real problems we face in the here and now. In the United States it has promoted anti-intellectualism and hostility to science and has hindered our progress as a nation. There are several reasons, just for starters.

  9. entech

    Jon, your post and the piece you cite seem about right to me.
    The whole thing about martyrdom and sacrifice is a bit hard to follow.
    Some say Jesus (actually God) was born to die for our sins, even a new born baby has sins and needs some bloodshed to wash away the sin of existing.
    As you say giving up your life is hardly that when you are back again in three days, and further if that is what you were born for what is the complaint.

  10. Buzz

    Jon 11:11 will do Jon. and could you round up an athiest just back from afgaaniston to testify for your belief?

    1. entech

      I don’t that Jon would be able to find one as you request, only a small percentage of Americans are or admit to being atheist – I would find it quite easy, about 30% of the population is atheist. Assuming the proportions in the armed forces reflect the general population Jon’s job would be difficult mine easy.

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