Thursday, August 07, 2008

A-Team, Messiah Contender



Remember the old TV game show, To Tell The Truth. Three contestants all claiming to be somebody, e.g., a fireman, an olympic athlete, etc. The panelists grill the contestants and try to figure out who is the authentic person and who the impostors are. The show always ended with, "will the real ________ please stand up?!" After one or more false starts, the real deal would stand.

Well, in the spirit of 1950s gameshows, we have a new contender for Messiah... The way the Ball bounces' own... A-Team!!!

[cue frenetic sports music - dun dun-dun, dun dun-dun...]

Here are the contestants:

We have Messiah-A, Jesus Christ; let's throw in Mohammed, not exactly messiah material, but a prophetic contender nonetheless, as Messiah-B; and... wearing the black trunks and in the atheist corner, Messiah-C, A-Team!!!! (OK, the boxing analogy breaks down with three contenders, but, trust me, through random mutation and natural selection, this analogy will evolve into something better!)

OK, A-Team. Give us your best Messiah contender creds.

Here we go:

1. "If that's all it take to convince you of something, fine. I'll say it: I am the way, the truth, and the life, no man comes to the Father but by me. -- A-Team

OK, A-Team! You are 1/10th of the way there!!! Cosmic, eternal words that suggest someone who transcends time and space. Well done!!! (Although, you may lose a few points on the originality/plagarism thing, but, hey, what's a little plagarism among darwinfriends?)

Here's your remaining list of requirements to be crowned Messiah:

2. Demonstrate your compassion and selflessness by going about doing good, healing the sick and oppressed. Demonstrate a variety of healing methods and exhibit compassion as you do so. Oozing divine healing virtue, so that if people of faith even touch your favorite leather jacket they get healed, will result in bonus points being awarded.

3. Engage in a knock-'em-dead teaching ministry. Demonstrate a thorough understanding of human nature and God's nature by talking about the inward disorder within human beings, and contrast this with the righteousness which God requires, which goes to the heart of the matter - inward thoughts and dispositions and not merely outward appearance. Your diagnosis of the human condition must be 100%, and remember, no copying from Contender-A -- that would be "wrong" (I put wrong in finger-quotes because I realize that right and wrong are tough concepts in a purely material, uncreated cosmos that has no purpose).

4. Demonstrate your authority over nature. As a suggestion, you might start with walking on frozen lake water and work your way up (or down, depending on how you make out) from there.

5. Demonstrate your wisdom by refuting your detractors with sayings that reflect a complete understanding of Scripture, God, and the human condition and leave others speechless or plotting your death (or, at least, sending you unflattering blog comments that suggest you have violated the Law of Darwin and/or are a fairy tale).

Speaking of which, A-Team, we are getting some static here. We're receiving a lot of blog feedback to the effect that you have not adequately demonstrated your existence. How do we know it is you, the one real and authentic A-Team, speaking, and not your disciples, and that 30 years after the fact of your alleged existence? How do we know you are not in fact nothing more than an automated internet atheist-comment-generator? How do we know that you are not some phantom, channelling Darwin? And can we even know that you, like cheezies, actually exist, and have "come in the flesh"?

But, I digress.

6. Demonstrate your love for and submission to God, and your oneness with God your Father by willingly submitting to him and obeying him in all matters. Tell us a bit about your existence with the Father prior to your gig down here on earth.

7. Arrange for your Father in heaven to personally commend you on at least one or two occasions, and, no, we will not accept a mere biplane overpass with a trailing message "A-Team is My Beloved Son in Whom I Am Well Pleased".

Doing OK? You're 70% of the way there, only three more to go!

8. Fulfill as many Old Testament prophecies concerning the Messiah as you can pack into your short 33 year life. You should be able to arrange the riding-on-a-donkey one without too much trouble, and we'll even accept an eco-friendly motorized vehicle as long as it's not an SUV, because we know according to the Goreacle that the Messiah does not do SUVs. The called-out-of-Egypt one you'll have to get working on. I suggest you contact Egypt Air as soon as you've finished reading the list. They're at egyptair.com. You're welcome. Arranging to be born in Bethlehem might be a bit sticky; were you born in Bethlehem, PA, by any chance?

9. Next: die on the cross as an offering to God for the sins of men, including those who love you and those who hate you. Do this without cursing God or man as the nails are pounded in and the cross uplifted and popped into the hole. Let the forgiveness that wells up from inside of you flow out toward those who crucified you. You must not show resentment towards those soldier guys who rifled your pockets and the one who took your iPod and the other guy who took your cell phone with its special Messiah ring-tone you paid for and legally downloaded because you're the Messiah and take the do-not-steal thing seriously. While you are busy dying, make a nod in the direction of any penitent thieves who may be in the area, and make appropriate arrangements for the care of your mother.

OK, that was a big one, but very effective at establishing your Messiah creds. I did, however, forget to mention one small detail. In order for your death on the cross to "count", you must have lived a sinless life. If you would prefer this in non-churchy language, let's just say you lived an exemplary, blameless, faultless, life according to God's original intention and design, and that in every thought, action, and reaction, towards both man and God, you hit the bulls-eye dead-on each and every time -- you were a perfect and exact representation of your Father in heaven and you perfectly loved God with all your heart, mind, and soul, and your neighbor as yourself (including, most importantly if you expect to be my personal Messiah, RkBall).

Any slip-ups, and you're back to step one, which is a bit of a problem (as Basil Fawlty might say), because you're dead. But, look at it this way. You're in good company. The vast majority of messiah-contenders strike out somewhere along the way.

10. You're on the home stretch. Now, rise from the dead. Show yourself, ascend to heaven, pour out your Spirit in real-time on those sincerely seeking to find the way, the truth and the life, and wait for the Big Reveal.

And that's it! You've demonstrated your Messiahship in 10 easy steps!



Let me now ask the contestants.


Will


the


real


Messiah...


please...


stand up!



[cue the frenetic sports music - dun-dun-dun, dun-dun dun...]




[cue the Vegas announcer's voice, reverb on]




Ladies and gentlemen!




In a unanimous decision, by a decisive knock-out, the still Reigning Champion, Lord, Saviour of the World, Only Wise God, Faithful Witness, King of Kings and Lord of Lords...





Jesus Christ !!!!



Hallelujah! Let the worship begin! And may it never end! May unending praise be offered to Him! Inspirer of 10,000 songs, and more on their way!


[cue happy, grateful hearts]

8 comments:

The A-Team said...

Oh wow! A blog devoted to little old me. I'm flattered. Of course my point was simply that your criteria of accepting Jesus as the real deal because according to a 1900 year old book said he said he was shows a low standard for evidence. You suggested that the mere saying of the magic words was proof enough for you, so I said them. Oddly, now those words don't seem to be enough. But boy did you devote a lot of time to this silly exercise, so I'll play.

1. I'm hardly alone on the whole plagiarism thing. Early chapters of Genesis are ripped right out of Gilgamesh. The character Eutychus is ripped right out of The Odyssey. Many of the Jesus accounts of the NT are borrowed from the accounts of other prophets in the OT. The Easter story is plagiarized from the story of the pagan fertility goddess "Ēostre" (represented by bunnies and eggs because she was a fertility goddess) who was said to have died and then was resurrected 3 days later on Easter Sunday (so named because her name was Ēostre). Jesus didn't even bother to change the name. And of course most of the myths attributed to Jesus had earlier roots: Mythras, Osirus, Dionysus, Ishtar, etc. So yeah, if I lose points for plagiarism, so does Jesus.

2. I'm more than willing to do this but in order to preserve fairness, Jesus must do it simultaneously so that we can be sure he's really doing it and not cheating. Also I don't own a leather jacket and view magic clothing as graven icons worthy of contempt.

3. Well now, since the scenario is that I am god, it'll be a no brainer to tell people about my nature. I already do that. But I'm hypothetically god and I say there is no inward disorder within human beings, and since I'm god then what I say goes. So while according to my godly rules I am all righteous. However, sadly the biblical god doesn't even come close to righteousness. I mean, he flooded the entire world and killed almost everyone on it. And he's also pro-torture, pro-slavery, and encourages people to stone their own children to death. So now I'm ahead. And of course my diagnosis of the human condition is 100% because I'm god and I said it is. Who are you going to believe, the false god of the bible or the word of the one true god who says he's the one true god, namely me? And no, right and wrong are not tough concepts in a purely material, uncreated cosmos that has no inherent purpose. That's the way we live now.
And again, I must insist that while I fulfill #3, Jesus must do the same simultaneously so that we can make sure he doesn't cheat.

4. I'll achieve this one by proxy, lending my divine powers to my servant Criss Angel. Jesus had angels so I can have Criss Angel:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sBQLq2VmZcA

5. Again, according to me, I am god so obviously I have a complete understanding of god. Same deal with the scripture. I didn't write it so it must have been written to promote my competition, the false god Jesus. I declare there should be no absolute devotion to any scripture. That being said, I've already demonstrated my understanding of both The Bible and the history surrounding The Bible. Though unlike you, I didn't just make up a bunch of post hoc rationalizations to avoid following the passages I'd like to pretend aren't there like: men with long hair are an abomination, stay clear of of women who have menstruated, stone your disobedient child, put anyone who works on the sabbath to death, don't wear mixed fabrics, etc. And before you even start with the whole (false god) Jesus said he fulfilled the old law, you still presumably hold reverence for The Ten Commandments and (false god) Jesus said every jot and tittle of the old law must be followed.

"How do we know it is you, the one real and authentic A-Team" You will know in your heart that I am the true A-Team. If this sounds like a silly answer to you, then welcome to my world. If the other guy can get away with that without even personally typing comments on your blog in real time, I'm clearly 1-up on him again, as I'm actually here right now typing to you and you can check the time stamp to confirm when I've done it. But of course I could be an automated computer generator. Now if only you applied the same level of skeptical inquiry to my competition, Jesus.

6. Again, for the purposes of this scenario, I am god and I do love me. That Holy Trinity claptrap is just the false god Jesus' propaganda. If you're just going to assume from the beginning that the other guy has already won the competition then this is not a fair competition, now is it? But I will yield the floor to Jesus to now answer in real time to prove that he really exists and has "come to flesh." Jesus? Jesus? Hello? It's your turn. Got nothing to say? Okay, I'll continue then. That's another point for me since Jesus chose to remain silent.

7. Again, falling back on my competition's propaganda. I'll let him go first and achieve these results. After his turn is over, then I'll go. But why won't you accept a mere biplane overpass with a trailing message "A-Team is My Beloved Son in Whom I Am Well Pleased" Because Jesus couldn't do it? Well I do have the power to do this, so that's another point for me. Some omnipotent god Jesus turned out to be. Any idiot can hire a biplane. In fact, they did last week with a message reading "Jesus sucks." Jesus did not follow suit with his own biplane message. That was apparently beyond his power.

8. Here's one. Jesus NEVER went by the name Immanuel, thus failing to satisfy prophecy. But I will. You may call me Immanuel. Prophecy fulfilled. I 1-up Jesus again. And you've already provided more than enough prophecies that I could easily fulfill, so you've done my job for me. But wouldn't it have been funny if I had been born in Bethlehem Hospital? LOL

9. Again, first I'd like to watch Jesus perform this feat, cause anyone can just have their friends spread it as a rumor. Once Jesus does this in front of the panel of judges, I'll go. And of course since I'm the lawmaker, it goes without saying that I lived a sinless life. I just declare it so.

10. So many messiah gods have already done this that it's hardly a very good test, but again, once Jesus has done this in front of the panel of judge's to ensure he didn't just cheat by performing a simple magic trick, I'll go.

Wow, this was a total waist of time. But fun.

RkBall said...

"1. The Easter story is plagiarized from the story of the pagan fertility goddess 'Ēostre'"

Rational, scholarly rebuttal: Oh, pul-eeze.

(If you are into audio books, you might want to download Lee Strobel's The Case for the Real Jesus sometime. He's got that flat Bill Murray Chicago accent happening, but if you don't mind that, it's an easy listen -- and you can shout out rebuttals while driving in your car!!!)

"Jesus didn't even bother to change the name."

Easter is not mentioned in the Bible.

3. "I'm hypothetically god and I say there is no inward disorder within human beings, and since I'm god then what I say goes."

You're not god yet. What you say about human nature has to resonate deeply with seekers of truth - like it did with me.

"However, sadly the biblical god doesn't even come close to righteousness. I mean, he flooded the entire world and killed almost everyone on it. And he's also pro-torture, pro-slavery, and encourages people to stone their own children to death."

The Giver of life is entitled to take life. Ever swatted a fly? Does that make you unrighteous? Why should you think God thinks that humans are more valuable than flies, unless you unconsciously accept the premise that we somehow have value -- as the Bible states?

4. "I can have Criss Angel:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sBQLq2VmZcA"

I wasted last night watching Andy Kaufman clips on YouTube; gotta get away from YouTube for a bit.

5."men with long hair are an abomination"

Not familiar with this one.

8. "Jesus NEVER went by the name Immanuel, thus failing to satisfy prophecy."

Scripture didn't say that the Messiah would call himself Immanuel. It said that others would call him Immanuel. This has been fulfilled, and awaits ultimate fulfillment when he comes to establish heaven-on-earth as per the book of Revelation.

9. "And of course since I'm the lawmaker, it goes without saying that I lived a sinless life. I just declare it so."

You're not god yet. Evidentiary value, my friend, evidence.

"Wow, this was a total waist of time. But fun."

If we can't have fun doing this, what's the point?

Fun -- another odd evolutionary burp.

DJeffery said...

1. These "myths attributed to Jesus" were actually centred around seasonal crop cycles and their explanation, but that aside let's take the best of these myths, Isis and Osiris. Osiris was killed by his brother and chopped up into 14 pieces and concealed around Egypt. Isis salvaged most of him (13 pieces) and made him ruler of the dead. He wasn't actually resurrected, in that part of him remained missing and how can he be considered to be resurrected if he's in the realm of the dead. Not to mention there's no, 'once upon a time' quality to the gospels. Instead, there's real historical figures and events mentioned with detail time and time again.

RkBall said...

A-team -- I hope you are listening to djeffery, who clearly has a head on his shoulders, as his picture clearly indicates!

The A-Team said...

I'm going on vacation tomorrow and need to get some sleep but just a few quick comments:

1. All these points are correct, including the Easter part. I was being facetious by saying Jesus was the culprit of plagiarism. Fictional characters obviously can't commit real-world plagiarism. Strobel's had more than enough YouTube videos to convince me he's not full of excrement and has failed every time. I'd rather burn my money than support his book sales.

No response to #2?

3. "What you say about human nature has to resonate deeply with seekers of truth - like it did with me." That's a lame cop-out. Well then by the same logic, Jesus fails because what he says fails to resonate deeply with seekers of truth like me. Jesus epically fails to understand basic human psychology.


"The Giver of life is entitled to take life." Are you serious? Wow! I'm afraid murder is horribly unethical whether you created the victim or not.
"Ever swatted a fly? Does that make you unrighteous? Why should you think God thinks that humans are more valuable than flies, unless you unconsciously accept the premise that we somehow have value -- as the Bible states?"
A. The fly metaphor doesn't follow this unless you think we created flies. And this totally ignores the spectrum of value of life. While we can theorize a being that looks on us as we look on flies or ants or whatever humans are many more orders of magnitude more intelligent than flies. Morally largely (though not completely) relates to perception of harm or suffering being done. Flies don't have the mental capacity to understand their own mortality or suffer in any meaningful way. Also, we can't reasonably empathize with a fly. Also, I'd argue that the level of premeditation and effort involved plays an important role in morality. It's obviously quite easy to accidentally kill a fly or intentionally kill one with little premeditation or effort. But nothing is accidental to the biblical god. While it'd be presumably easy for him to commit mass genocide of the human race, it'd be a premeditated act against a species clearly capable of suffering immensely. In fact, according to the bible, god supports endless torture. These are not the actions of a benign being. Such values come from us and conform perfectly with the laws of logic observed in the universe. And I've already explained the laws of the universe in another blog.

4. Can't argue with that. Andy Kaufman rules!

5. 1 Corinthians 11:14-15

8. Who in the bible ever called Jesus "Immanuel?" And yeah, I know that Immanuel means "God be with us" but the obvious meaning to the prophecy is that the messiah would carry the name Immanuel. Jesus' parents never named Jesus "Immanuel " and at no point in the bible does he carry this name.

9. "You're not god yet. Evidentiary value, my friend, evidence." Again, if this is a legitimate rebuttal then Jesus is in the same boat. He's not god, according to you, until he can confirm he is god with evidence. If you're going to just claim it's satisfactory that he's said to have done it in the past, I'm sure I can think up an equally unfalsifiable claim.

Regarding the fun remark, no one claimed evolution worked perfectly and with a plan in mind; but I seem to recall claims of god working perfectly, so what's the divine purpose of fun?

As for djeffery's comments, I'll admit that I'm a little rusty on the specific mythological origins from which Christianity is based. DJeffery may be using the internet film "Zeitgeist" as his source, which I'm told by people with a stronger background in this area is not accurate. I would alternatively recommend Joseph Campbell, Robert M. Price, Richard Carrier, or just contacting Rook Hawkins at "The Rational Response Squad." Rook knows this stuff like the back of his hand and can cite the evidence and scholarship for it.

Anyway, I'm off on vacation. Have a good week.

RkBall said...

"Anyway, I'm off on vacation. Have a good week."

You were wearing me out. This is an answer to prayer.

There is a God!

mjr256 said...

Since I'm paying for this internet use by the minute, I'll just say, no it isn't and that you're last comment is an absurd reinterpretation of what was said. Wishing/hoping someone nothing particularly awful befalls another human being has nothing whatsoever to do with prayer.

RkBall said...

Hey, I was TOTALLY kidding.

Sorry for the offense taken.

Have a great, What-About-Bob, vacation!

"... nothing intellectually compelling or challenging.. bald assertions coupled to superstition... woefully pathetic"