Examining Christianity: In Light of other Religious Traditions, Nature and Science?

· Agnosticism, Buddhism, Religion

Allah created mankind and took it upon Himself to guide them, as He says in the Qur’an, “Surely, it is for Us to provide guidance.” (92:12) Guidance and Law were given to every nation of the world through His Messengers, “And for every people there was a Messenger” (10:47). “And there is a Guide for every people.” (13:7) “And We did raise among every people a Messenger.” (16:36) Thus the Holy Qur’an affirms the truth of all the previous Revelations.

As all humans are God’s creation, it stands to reason that God not only guided people in the Middle East through Abraham, Isaac, David, Solomon, Jeremiah, John the Baptist and Jesus, but, He also guided other people through prophets like Confucius, Buddha and Zoroaster. If this be true there should be some common theme between their teachings, a common thread, a clue that these teachings are all emanating from a common source, the same glacier feeds all these rivers of wisdom. The gulf between Pauline Christianity and all the other world religions is an illuminating testimony to the fact that St. Paul changed Christianity from the religion of Jesus to a religion about his death and imagined resurrection.
There is a concept in Buddhism of countless Buddha. Encyclopedia Britannica states, “According to the various traditions of Buddhism, there have been buddhas in the past and there will be buddhas in the future.”[1] This resonates with the Islamic teaching that there have been 124,000 prophets in different times and different parts of the world.
The testimony of One God is everywhere and Trinity is no where to be seen in our universe. The universe and all life forms on our planet earth speak of One God and not three.Historically also other than the Christians we find no testimony of Trinity in other regions of the earth and other religions. Even looking at the local population of the Middle East, Jews are strict monotheists. Even among the Christians we still have a sect named Unitarians.The word Trinity is not even mentioned in the New Testament. It is stated in 1890 edition of Encyclopedia Britannica, “The Trinitarians and the Unitarians continued to confront each other, the latter at the beginning of the third century still forming the large majority.”

It is necessary to the happiness of man that he be mentally faithful to himself. Infidelity does not consist in believing, or in disbelieving; it consists in professing to believe what one does not believe. It is impossible to calculate the moral mischief, if I may so express it, that mental lying has produced in society. When man has so far corrupted and prostituted the chastity of his mind, as to subscribe his professional belief to things he does not believe, he has prepared himself for the commission of every other crime. [Thomas Paine, The Age of Reason]

With a little effort One God can be traced in all religions, but the three persons and one substance of Trinity is nowhere to be seen, except in Pauline dogma.
The concept of there being prophets in all regions of the world, is self evident to the Muslims who grow up with the Quranic teachings, “Indeed, We have sent thee with the truth, as a bearer of glad tidings and as a Warner; and there is no people on earth in any age who did not receive a Warner from God.”  (Al Quran: 35:25) This is not just a Muslim paradigm but some Christian missionaries have yielded to this frame of reasoning as well, the case in point is a Christian missionary and Islamophobe Don Richardson.  I borrow the description of his concept of ‘Redemptive Analogies’ from wikipedia here.
Richardson studied at the Prairie Bible Institute and the Summer Institute of Linguistics. In 1962, he and his wife Carol went to work among the Sawi tribe of what was then Dutch New Guinea in the service of the Regions Beyond Missionary Union. The Sawi were known to be cannibalistic headhunters. In their new home in the jungle, the Richardsons set about learning the native Sawi language which was daunting in its complexity. There are 19 tenses for every verb. Don was soon able to become proficient in the dialect after a schedule of 8-10 hours daily learning sessions.
Richardson labored to show the villagers a way that they could comprehend Jesus from the Bible, but the cultural barriers to understanding and accepting this teaching seemed impossible until an unlikely event brought the concept of the substitutionary atonement of Christ into immediate relevance for the Sawi.
Missionary historian Ruth A. Tucker writes:
“As he learned the language and lived with the people, he became more aware of the gulf that separated his Christian worldview from the worldview of the Sawi: ‘In their eyes, Judas, not Jesus, was the hero of the Gospels, Jesus was just the dupe to be laughed at.’ Eventually Richardson discovered what he referred to as a Redemptive Analogy that pointed to the Incarnate Christ far more clearly than any biblical passage alone could have done. What he discovered was the Sawi concept of the Peace Child.”[2]
Three tribal villages were in constant battle at this time. The Richardsons were considering leaving the area, so to keep them there, the Sawi people in the embattled villages came together and decided that they would make peace with their hated enemies. Ceremonies commenced that saw young children being exchanged between opposing villages. One man in particular ran toward his enemy’s camp and literally gave his son to his hated foe. Observing this, Richardson wrote: “if a man would actually give his own son to his enemies, that man could be trusted!” From this rare picture came the analogy of God’s sacrifice of his own Son. The Sawi began to understand the teaching of the incarnation of Christ in the Gospel after Richardson explained God to them in this way.
Following this event many villagers converted to Christianity, a translation of the New Testament in Sawi was published, and nearly 2,500 Sawi patients were treated by Carol. The world’s largest circular building made strictly from un-milled poles was constructed in 1972 as a Christian meeting place by the Sawi.
This time Don Richardson following in the footsteps of Judas had duped them into a different irrationality, this was another case of bait and switch, whcih is commonly employed consciously or unconsciously by the Christian apologists to defend all their dogma, they present the proofs and need of One God and then sell to the naive three persons in one being of Trinity, without offering any proof for the Triune God. Here Richardson exploited the Peace Child to sell the Christian dogma of substitution atonement, emphasis being on substitution in atonement as well as in bait and switch.  Peace Child was no out of this world phenomenon like the Christian atonement, there was a common practice of intermarriages in the medieval Indian states to ensure peace, the premise was that if your daughter was in a certain state or province you are not going to attack that state.  This has little if any commonality with God killing his own son for the redemption of mankind.  Analogy would be befitting if God leaves mankind with his living son as insurance or assurance against any plan of punishment on His part so that humans feel safe from any negative intervention from the Almighty!
Was the Sawi conversion due to the powerful reasoning of ‘Redemptive Analogy,’ or the economic considerations of the medicines and the large church building?  In the case of Sawi we will never know, but if we apply the principles of ‘Redemptive Analogy’ to larger well documented religions and reformers and prophets like Confucius, Buddha and Zoroaster, we will realize quickly that Unitarianism is the way to go, there is no ‘Redemptive anologies’ in the teachings of these sages to draw our attention to paradox par excellence of Trinitarian dogma.  Unitarianism is the only analogy that we find in these world religions, feel free to choose between Judaism, Unitarian Christianity or Islam!
Richardson has covered his experiences and his scholarship in his books Eternity in Their Hearts: Startling Evidence of Belief in the One True God in Hundreds of Cultures Throughout the World and Peace Child.  However, a more critical reading of the materials that he presents and supplementing information on the topic from other sources actually argues the Muslim position that with a little effort One God can be traced in all religions, but the three persons and one substance of Trinity is no where to be seen, except in Pauline dogma.
This time Richardson had duped them into a different irrationality, which has no basis in any other religious tradition.  It was a false analogy.  No Sawi was sacrificing his son for the sins of anyone else.  Some Sawi fathers had only offered their sons as a collateral or a human shields to avoid war but Richardson in his obesession with the person of Jesus of Nazareth imagined that there was some redemptive analogy here.  Christian atonement is a contradiction that is not found in any other religious tradition.  It is very concisely explained by one of the Founding Fathers of USA, Thomas Paine:
From the time I was capable of conceiving an idea, and acting upon it by reflection, I either doubted the truth of the Christian system, or thought it to be a strange affair; I scarcely knew which it was: but I well remember, when about seven or eight years of age, hearing a sermon read by a relation of mine, who was a great devotee of the church, upon the subject of what is called Redemption by the death of the Son of God. After the sermon was ended, I went into the garden, and as I was going down the garden steps (for I perfectly recollect the spot) I revolted at the recollection of what I had heard, and thought to myself that it was making God Almighty act like a passionate man, that killed his son, when he could not revenge himself any other way; and as I was sure a man would be hanged that did such a thing, I could not see for what purpose they preached such sermons. This was not one of those kind of thoughts that had anything in it of childish levity; it was to me a serious reflection, arising from the idea I had that God was too good to do such an action, and also too almighty to be under any necessity of doing it. I believe in the same manner to this moment; and I moreover believe, that any system of religion that has anything in it that shocks the mind of a child, cannot be a true system.
From religious traditions let us now move to a different tradition, a tradition called science, based on human observations and reasoning alone.

“Science without religion is lame. Religion without science is blind.” Albert Einstein

One should think of science as also a tradition, in some ways akin to religious traditions, with its own axioms or set of beliefs, theorems and way of looking at the world and life, a precise way of thinking, if you will.  To support my thesis, I quote an authority no less than Albert Einstein, “The whole of science is nothing more than a refinement of everyday thinking.” Therefore, we should examine all religions in light of science as well.  If we do not subject Christianity to scientific scrutiny then it would be blind at best.  According to Einstein, “Science without religion is lame. Religion without science is blind.”My knols in this collection about President Thomas Jefferson, Albert Einstein and Deism, are among other things, an attempt to throw some scientific light on the collection of dogma called Christianity!

Blessed is He (Allah) Who has sent down the Discrimination to His servant, that he may be a Warner to all the worlds — He to Whom belongs the kingdom of the heavens and the earth. And He has taken unto Himself no son, and has no partner in the kingdom, and has created everything, and has ordained for it its proper measure. Yet they have taken besides Him gods, who create nothing but are themselves created, and who have no power to harm or benefit themselves and they control not death nor life nor resurrection. (Al Quran 25:2-4)

The Christian apologists present evidence for a Creator and assume the necessity of the Christian God. But, the Triune Christian God does not exist. Christianity is sandwiched between Judaism and Islam and both are Unitarian. The tradition of Deism developed by the Founding Fathers of USA would also point to one God who is not Triune. The scientific tradition if properly understood would also suggest one Creator with one will as understood by Deism.

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