A Humanist Jesus, Ctd.
This post prompted an avalanche of emails. It was indeed challenging. Maybe it will help Sam and me narrow our differences in the coming posts. Here's a typical response:
This note spoke to me more than anything I have read in your debate with Sam Harris.
I wrote to you a few weeks ago, stating my theory that religion grew out of man’s awareness that his time on earth is temporary and that he needed a power outside himself and more permanent than himself to to give meaning to his temporary time on Earth. A Methodist minister once told me that we all believe in a god and that god is the idea or goal to which we devote most of our time, talents, and treasure. In too many instances that god is the pursuit of fame, fortune, or power, (sometimes under the guise of religion) all of which are ideas bigger than ourselves, but unfortunately, they have no permanence. Often, we belatedly realize this too late as our lives draw closer to the end.
This is where Sam and I part company. He offers no alternative to our human need to believe in a power outside of ourselves that is greater and more permanent than ourselves. Worshiping some branch of ever-changing science, as Harris seems to suggest, cannot fill that need.
I share with your reader the belief that Jesus’ life and teachings offers each of us born in the Christian tradition an opportunity to realize our full human potential. Whether he was born of a virgin birth, walked on water, or arose from the dead is immaterial. It is the way he lived his life and his principles, and ideas that are permanent and ever-lasting. We can pray or meditate on these concepts in an attempt to incorporate him more fully into our lives and our ways of living. This is a goal worth pursuing.