Now that questioning the Gospels is mainstream and big business, atheism will naturally follow, won't it?
I'm not so sure.
There's been a lot about Jesus on tv lately, and it isn't the stuff I remember from Sunday school. There's the DaVinci Code, where the story goes that Jesus got with Mary Magdalene (it only took about 20 years to remember that part from the Scorcese film). There's the short-lived tv series "the Book of Daniel," where Jesus is a kind of little pocket pal. There's the A&E special, where we see what Jesus "really looked like," the Jesus Ice Walk, and the new Gospel of Judas that everyone's talking about, where Jesus asked Judas for his betrayal. It would seem that this kind of "getting creative with the gospels" would let people's minds be allowed to think in different ways than dogma would allow.
Unfortunately, there might be another effect. I think people, who, after all, don't read or think, will see it as science and history confirming the existence of Jesus, the moral teacher, who is just a little bit more like them. Take this angry letter from a young girl to Normal Bob Smith
by the way how you ever read the DAvinci code? there is proof that Jesus did exist, but had a life with Mary magdalene and bore a child
What proof do you, personally, have to show that my God is not real
The more folks "hear things" about historians and archaeologists asking questions, making clay heads of what Jesus really looked like, and plotting weather patterns in 30 CE, it means, to them, that science is proving Jesus. They don't know what the proof is, but as the young girl pointed out, "there is proof."In all this confusion, will there ever be room for the mythicist position?
Last Friday night, I heard Brian Williams on NBC Nightly News literally lament about the news stories of the week of April 3-7. News stories like the prayer study, the Gospel of Judas, Tiktallik and the hypothesis that Jesus walked on ice, not water. He was genereous enough, thank goodness, to let America know that it was still ok to have faith. I sure hope America thanks Brian Williams for his generosity.
It's the ice story, absurd as it is, that should shake the faith of the "believe-everything-on-tv" crowd. If it were true, that Jesus walked on ice, it would make him an absolute fraud, or at the most, an entertainer. That would undermine Jesus' morality--the only part of him that matters, or is real --to a great number of moderate and liberal Christians. Yet the effect of this story, in my opinion, does not undermine Jesus at all. What it does, as with the other stories, is confirm Jesus' existence with science. The originator of the ice hypothesis was an oceanographer, which makes him a scientist. Therefore, to the believer,Science proves Jesus yet again.
For the optimist, I will allow that this may be part of an extremely long process of making God smaller. Maybe a smaller God is a less dangerous God. But don't hold your breath. As long as there's someone there to take responsibility for one's actions, it doesn't matter how small he is.
Thanks for listening.