A Logical God?
But if the actions ascribed to the Christian god as they are characterized throughout the bible are supposed to be “logical,” I can only suppose that Christians mean something other than what I learned about when I took courses on logic back in my college days.
There are many areas I could pick on for this, such as the temptation of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, the global flood, the instruction to Abraham to prepare his own son as a burnt offering, the hardening of Pharaoh’s heart, Balaam’s talking ass, the sacrifice of the ideal to the non-ideal in the gospel story, a parent turning its back on its own child while it is being tortured and executed, etc.
But one example that I have always found quite illogical, but which is never talked about, is the choice of Paul to take Jesus’ message to the gentile world.
Is it logical that Jesus would take to himself twelve traveling companions, spend upwards of three years teaching and mentoring them in his message of salvation, performing miracles, healings and other wonders in their presence, and divulging all the “secrets of knowledge” and “spiritual truths” of his “Word” to them through speeches, prayers and parables, but then choose to send to the non-Jews of the world (a significantly larger population) someone who was not one of Jesus’ companions and thus did not witness Jesus’ wonders and miracles, who did not learn directly from Jesus, and who did not even see him crucified?
Indeed, this is completely illogical.
Is it even logical to teach a disciple with the foreknowledge that he will inevitably defect?
According to the story, after Judas Iscariot betrayed Jesus, there were still eleven disciples who had been brought up under Jesus’ tutelage up until his crucifixion and even witnessing his post-resurrection appearances in a body that still had fresh wounds. They would have known what he taught. They would have witnessed the miracles he performed. They would have had firsthand knowledge of “the way, the truth, and the life” that Jesus is said to have claimed to be (cf. John 14:6). And yet, the book of Acts says next to nothing about these remaining disciples, and switches focus onto Paul’s missionary adventures. It seems that all this teaching had gone to waste on most of these disciples.
In his several letters, Paul gives many teachings – teachings that are found in the gospels and there put into Jesus’ mouth. But when Paul gives them in his letters, he does not mention that Jesus had ever taught them. (For a few of the many examples of this, see the lengthy quote from G. A. Wells which I included in this blog entry.) How did Paul know these teachings, and why didn’t he credit Jesus for teaching them? If he learned them from one or more of the remaining disciples (e.g., James or Peter), this seems to go against what Paul himself says in Gal. 1:11-12. There Paul stresses the following:
But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.
Thus we seem to be faced with a very clear set of alternatives: either the illogic of a “logical god” [sic] which chooses to spend three years teaching disciples but then decides to discard them in preference for sending a person who did not benefit from that teaching (while giving little or no explanation about the fate of the disciples), or the logic of the legend thesis which demonstrates that the way the New Testament reads is just as we might expect it were the whole Jesus story just a fiction developed over time.
by Dawson Bethrick