Friday, September 22, 2006

Who would die for a lie?

A reader asks me about the disciples dying for their belief:

I don't know where to start, but I'll try to be brief. There are many parallels between us in our life experience. I have had many doubts growing inside for several years. Taking up astronomy started it steamrolling. I confided to a long time christian friend who is now a pastor that I am down to believing only that Christ lived , died and resurrected . Genesis, time lines , genealogies, and writings just don't jive. I think your essays on old earth and evolution are very strong, but the ones on Jesus and his divinity and resurrection provide no clear explanation. Its still a big what if for me. Question: Almost all of his disciples died horrible deaths according to tradition. Who would die for a lie?

I congratulate this reader in taking the time to ask questions, and consider where they lead. She is certainly on the right road.

What about the disciples? Well, as she wrote, tradition does say they died horrible deaths for their beliefs. But those traditions come many years after the gospels were written. The New Testament does not record any disciple dying specifically for his belief in the resurrection. (Stephen is martyred over a dispute about the law in Acts 7, and we are not told why James was killed in Acts 12. ) Are the later traditions of martyrdom based on facts? The reports of the disciples' martyrdom are so far removed from the events, we really don't know that they are true.

But suppose the disciples really did die for their beliefs. What does that prove? The 19 hijackers died on 9/11 for their beliefs. Does that prove they were right? The folks in the Heaven's Gate cult died for their beliefs. Does that prove they were right? No, sometimes people can be so caught up in their beliefs that they can die for something that is not true.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

agree with your answers totally!
I would have given the 9/11 hijackers as example too. :)