I have several friends with whom I discuss Christianity. When I ask them point blank to explain it, generally they cannot. When I tell them what it is they’re supposed to believe, they give me this look as though I’m the one being utterly naive.
A few weeks ago, I start a conversation with a married couple I am friends with using a line I stole from Noah Lusians, host of the Scathing Atheist podcast, “So you believe the earth was populated after a person made out of a rib was tricked into eating a fruit by a talking serpent?”
In hindsight, my biggest fear in starting the conversation probably should have been the response, “Yes, the earth was populated after a person made out of a rib was tricked into eating a fruit by a talking serpent. And?”
Me: “And you’re clearly bat-shit-crazy.”
Instead, they give me, “The Look” for a few seconds. A half baked smile-grimace on their faces. One of them manages to suggest, “Well, it’s actually a metaphor.”
Me: “Okay, explain the metaphor. A metaphor is a comparison of two, possibly disparate things, using a common thread between the two ideas, concepts, objects, whatever’s being compared.”
Eventually, they manage to squeak out something about original sin. Although I still don’t see the actual metaphor, their words are ridiculous and I suspect would cause me physical pain and vomiting, if I try to get them to clarify. So I let the whole metaphor thing go under the assumption that they don’t know their own religion well enough to explain it properly. After all, neither of them are theologians. I continue.
Me: “So this original sin never actually happened, it’s just a metaphor?”
They don’t commit to anything, at first. (NOTE: It’s about here the husband has to go to work, so I am left talking with just the wife.) The wife reasons through a few facts about evolution and comes to the conclusion that our species probably didn’t come about from just two people, the proverbial Adam and Eve. So as previously suggested, this original sin probably didn’t actually happen.
I’m actually delighted to speak with a “reasonable” Christian. But there’s a reason that “real” Christians fight so hard to deny evolution.
Me: “The only reason to believe in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior is because the Original Sin literally happened. Because of this sin, the Holy Spirit, who is also Yahweh, ethereally rapes some young woman so she could have himself (Yahweh) in the form of Jesus (who is also Yahweh?) as her baby.”
I had to mentally make sure I got all that correct, so I let those words hang in the air for moment before continuing.
Me: “Next, Jesus grows up and is tortured and crucified, allowing his (Yahweh’s) sacrifice to atone for mankind’s original sin, which never actually happened, but in metaphor. So there’s really no reason for Yahweh to sacrifice himself, except for what? Dramatic purposes?”
At this point, my friend, she has nothing. More or less, she changes the subject, and I let it go. No doubt, she thinks I’m playing with her, or mocking her faith or whatever, but I genuinely want to understand. I don’t say things in this way about Christianity to be mocking, I say them in this way, because that’s how they sound to me.
At this point, I’m trying to figure out if Jesus’s death was some kind of metaphor of a metaphor, a meta-metaphor? I don’t know. Quite honestly, I would love to believe in a higher power of some kind, but does it have sound so ridiculous?