God of the Christian period

It is very likely that before Ancient Greece, some small unheard of tribe (one forgotten by history) decided to club together and stop the quibbles of other tribesmen over the decision-making, formed an orderly crowd, and gathered a small cohort of trusted men, gaged which of the men the rest of the tribesman trusted the most, and it was he from then who decided which of the tribesmen would hunt on one day, then gather the next – quibble-free (or at least if there were enough quibbles then the tribe could be brought together again and decide that the one who they trusted before no longer has their trust, and a re-election should take place.) It is likely that this, in some primitive form had occured, but yet democracy is attributed (rightly) to the Greeks.

The same occurs with monotheism; we today acknowledge the judeo-christian legacy of monotheism, though it has been speculated upon by some that Orpheus’ beliefs, set out in his verse (others even wonder whether it was he who invented the art of writing, by setting out his religious interventions on slate), point to Dionysious not being one of many deities, but rather a multidimensional monotheistic God, who had different functions, each named and personified, while Zeus is reduced to a kind of mere rulemaker (see for example W.K. Guthrie’s great book Orpheus and Greek Religion or my review of that book here, and also for a comprehensive book on the history of God, see Karen Armstrong’s aptly titled The History of God).

In the same light, therefore, we must attribute certain aspects of society as it is lived today, to eras and epochs that might not be said to have rightly created a way of life, but has it as a kind of historical referent. Forms of democracy may have gone unknown, and we can infer that this is the case, but where we cannot infer, or where the synonym is so strong that we cannot think of any other era to which we attribute modes of societal governance, law or ideas, then we must accept that the legacies of modes of societal governance, law or ideas be attributed (perhaps erroneously) to places in time decided by the historians.

Humanists will say that the moralism that came to its fore in the Christian era, with notable referents like the Golden Rule, have always been around and have to do with our natural indiscriminate attitudes towards others, and have emerged quite naturally, however through a basic read of the Christian era, we can see some of these moral codes have quite concretely been outlined in their fullest here. Further, the conditions with which these moral codes came about rely a great deal on the time they were written, which of course explains why some of them are wrong – and this is a further commentary on how we view these ideas today, they’re not divine endowment, they are products of a particular time, something which gay Christians, female vicars and liberals may insist on, saying that prejudice may be a product of a less enlightened time on these issues, and actually go against the true principles of Christian love (agape).

Never has a more robust explanation of our limits in knowledge been spelt out than in the Christian concept of a God, that mysterious realm. A God who pronounces love, but lets his Son die on the Cross – not even the Christians themselves could work out what God was, vengeful or caring, imminent or transcendent, one who can interfere or one who, as G.K. Chesterton famously said regarding the problem of evil, “seemed for an instant to be an atheist”. God, the term, works in the way Frege noted that concepts did not. For Frege a concept could not exist without there being attributed to it a material referent of which to properly conceive, but God resists this logic, for what God stands for is the immaterial thing that somehow glues a community together. In a strange twist, for God’s work to take place, a material referent need not exist at all, or more radically, God doesn’t have to exist at all for his work to be done – we as a community ensure God’s work takes place. The Christian concept of community can no better be explained than by Matthew 18:20 “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them”. In the name of Christ, the son of God and his physical embodiment, a community gathered, and our proximity to one another, is bound by the immaterial thing that we call God. It is this that we owe to the Christian era, and it is this which is meant by God, and where it isn’t, it is wrong. There is no bearded man in the sky, there is the thing that exists, and affects us, and makes us act, that fundamentally doesn’t exist at all, and it is this which is the true Christianity, an atheistic Christianty.

For those who dispute the word God in this instance should remember the lesson first expounded at the start of this article, that though we might infer that this moral prescription has existed elsewhere, nowhere has it been so concretely expounded than around the Christian period, for which we, atheist or theist, should unequivocally acknowledge.

A person may act for the better or to the detriment of a community, but this does not preclude an emotional proximity to the community or other people. It is readily accepted that criminals who seem to show no mercy would’ve had to have gone through a severe amount of emotional abstraction or mental trauma, and this is because emotional response is a standard outcome from the proximity between people. An atheism which tips its hat to Christianity at this point notes that a no better understanding, and acknolwegdment of our limit in knowledge, of what is at play here, is realised at it’s most accurate with Matthew 18:20.

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4 Responses to God of the Christian period

  1. John says:

    Please check out this very stark image as to what the christian-ISM as a would be world conquering power and control institution has always been about, and still is.

    http://www.dartmouth.edu/~spanmod/mural/panel13.html

    Nothing more needs to be said.

  2. irene says:

    It’s true that the Christians did a great job of defining, teaching and enforcing Christian morals. And it’s true that we still uphold many of these morals today – we still live in a Christian country. But strong morals had been defined and upheld in ancient civilizations before Christian times and along side it in other parts of the world (I’d rather be a Buddhist)

    Education, stories about good and bad, these are always good things. Building communities around central warship places probably helps people get along. But I still believe that people will tend to behave as they feel it is necessary to behave, every immoral act is acceptable (encouraged even) in some situation, Even god breaks his own commandments when he has too etc.

    What I’m saying is that yes we recognise the beginnings of our laws in early Christianity and Judaism, that makes sense. But we may have a had a very different yet just as ‘moral’ set of laws if religion as we know it had never taken hold. I think that morals come from a much deeper place than religious belief.

    I don’t know much about ancient Greek ethics, but wasn’t there a very strong moral code (and almost certainly more thoughtful)?

    • The ancient Greek narrative is interesting; it is a wonder why since Greece had the lion’s share of best ideas (Democracy, philosophy) they still took easily to St Paul’s evangelicising on Jesus. It has been suggested by some that this is to do with Dionysus being a monotheistic God, as might be implied by the Orphic rites (see here for more).

      But as further aspect of all this is, it is not simply that Christian morals are be good to your neighbour, there is more to it than that – these perhaps come about by ones proximity to another, love finds its way – but other moral codes, organised and written rather conclusively by Christians of the biblical era, are counter-intuitive, such as Matthew 10:34 (I come not to bring peace, but to bring a sword); it wasn’t simply that Jesus was a kind man who forgave sins, but he realised that peace could be achieved through war (Christianity is not pacifism, and why should it be, I’m not either) as much as promoting peace could. There are carful ways with which to define ones enemy, and this was what was meant with the example of the sword, to divide in order to ascertain an enemy.

      Buddhism is a way of understanding ones self, but it doesn’t even believe in the real world; Christianity on the other hand is involved in a political struggle, a struggle against Roman Empire fascism, and the end game for Jesus was to found a Christian state predicated on much a similar society as a socialist state. Some of the writers of the bible had shitty attitudes towards women, gays etc, but this was the society in which they lived; I’ve read things by Marx that’d make your toenails curl about women, about Jews, but for some reason Marxists today are not by and large sexist anti-Semites (quite the opposite), however by and large Christians don’t do well for gays and women (saying things like love the sinner, hate the sin) – in this instance it is not the theory I dislike, it’s practitioners who can’t separate attitudes of the time from how to operate a theory in the modern world. St Paul, however consumed by his society, had a basic theory that was to become the Christian moral precept written in Galatians 3:28 (There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus); that society is for all, not for murderous tyranny of the Romans, not for racial particularism as promoted by certain Jewish sects, but for everyone, and here is where that moral code has had its most prominent supporter/founder: by St Paul, in the bible!

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