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The two worst things ever said by Jesus
 
 
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The two worst things ever said by Jesus
by Jody Nagel
Essay
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I.
"For you will always have the poor with you . . ."

(Mark 14:7, Matthew 26:11, and John 12:8)
 
Jesus's declaration [that the poor will always be among us] has been used repeatedly by the Christian religion to justify the horrendous wealth inequity that exists among humans. Jesus apparently actually said these words, which is rather inexplicable coming from someone also famous for saying "Love thy neighbor as thyself" (Matthew 22:39 and Mark 12:31) and "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you" (Matthew 7:12).
 
That little word "as" would seem to imply fairness and wealth equity. If the Christian philosophy were applied to economics, the world would have a class-less socialistic economy that everyone benefited from evenly. Yet the bulk of American "Christians" support the gross unfairness of capitalism. Apparently they need to get credit for giving to the poor. If there were no poor, there would be no need to give to anyone. Why should some be privileged to give, and others not able to give? Having the belief "Do unto others..." implies that one cannot accept another's poverty any more than one would accept poverty in his own life.
 
Yet Christians do accept the existence of poverty in the world, and quote Jesus's immoral and ill-considered pronouncement that the poor will always be among us. The mere fact that this sentence exists negates any effort by the majority of humans to attempt to change the world for the better. What if Jesus had said that slaves will always be among us? The Civil War would never have happened, and we'd still have slavery. What if Jesus said that women would never have the right to vote? The current man-made wealth of this planet divided by all seven billion people would produce a reasonably comfortable existence for everyone. The selfishness of the rich to prevent losing their advantage is why we still have poverty. And when they quote the words of Jesus, suddenly everybody else just ceases even to try.
 
It is the rich that want the masses to believe religious ideas, since it is this that keeps the rich safe from underclass uprisings. The rich want the underclass to believe in some afterlife, because what poor person would go off and die in a war for his king, or for G.W. Bush, if they didn't believe in an afterlife. What impoverished person wouldn't attempt to undermine the rich at every possible turn, if that person believed that Jesus, in the name of Love for EVERYONE, wanted an end to economic unfairness?
 
One wouldn't need war. One could bring about this revolutionary social change in a most loving way. People need merely to avoid buying the products of rich corporations, to ostracize the rich by averting one's eyes and, through body-language, letting the rich feel shame for their undeserved wealth. Society should treat the rich as outcasts. Until they give up their evil belief in unfairness, and return to the social fold, as did the prodigal son, they should be looked down upon. When electing a president, a person should never vote for someone with vastly more buying power than themselves, as such a candidate could not possibly represent him.
 
Yet, it is the Christians themselves that will assure that the world does not improve in a decent humanistic manner. And, in spite of the vast magnitude of their hypocrisy concerning loving their neighbors, they will look at you, and in a resigned sort of way shake their heads and quote to you Matthew 26:11.
 
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II.
24Thomas, one of the twelve disciples (called the Twin), was not with them when Jesus came. 25The other disciples therefore said unto him, "We have seen the LORD." But he said unto them, "Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe." 26And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, "Peace be unto you." 27Then saith he to Thomas, "Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing." 28And Thomas answered and said unto him, "My LORD and my God." 29Jesus saith unto him, "Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed."
(John 20:24-29)
 
Way to go, Thomas, and all other doubting Toms that have ever lived. Doubt, and an expectation that a statement can be verifiable (or rejected) by employing one's senses, depicts well how the human brain has evolved. Our brains exist to help us survive in a real world, and we ordinarily have no reason to doubt our senses. If I see a tree on fire, I end up believing, for that time and place, that there is a tree on fire. The relationship between our senses and our brain's reasoning capacity is quite practical and down to earth. A statement that defies one's normal expectations needs to have strong evidence if one is to change one's beliefs.
 
According to John 20:29, Jesus praises all people who will believe in His Resurrection by hearing about it, without having had the same personal evidence that Thomas supposedly had. All people everywhere have never seen a verifiably dead person come back to life days later. If there is an exception to this, it is the right of every human brain to be allowed to demand evidence for such a resurrection. To accept the words of others of a resurrection is to forfeit every aspect of your brain's ability as a reasoning instrument. Why should I believe in precisely one exception to the permanency of death, which took place 2000 years ago, and of which I cannot possibly verify now with my own senses? Why should anybody's beliefs be based on words that others wrote thousands of years ago for their own purposes, rather than on the physical evidence of current reality?
 
But this praise for belief-without-evidence that Christianity has superimposed over society has an earlier champion. Aristotle (384-322 B.C.E.), the author of Physics, believed it was beneath the dignity of true philosophers to test theories and measure data accurately. Reality could be known merely by properly thinking about it with a trained mind. This mind-set permeated much of the ancient world. Aristotle's asinine ideas about cosmology remained firmly in place until Galileo (1564-1642 C.E.) proved otherwise. Of course, there are two errors in Aristotle. First, measuring and observing reality is crucial to correctly understanding the world. Second, a "trained mind" might be a good idea, but who is it that trains the mind, and who trained the trainer's mind? If the teacher's training is faulty, then so will be the student's. Ultimately, a trained mind is simply the natural mind, engaging in doubt, in sensing, in critiquing, in rejecting, in finding reasonableness between what is observed and what is concluded. A trained mind rejects faith-based beliefs.
 
Between Aristotle's Physics and Jesus's words "blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed," the advances of science were delayed for about 18 centuries. People kill in the defense of their faith-based beliefs precisely because their beliefs are indefensible and they are afraid to be wrong. What scientist has killed another in order to defend a scientific belief? The earth leaves us with a spotty and incomplete geological record from which we attempt to deduce reasonable conclusions. But the earth leaves us absolutely no theological record at all. With theology, all is based on written words by humans attempting to control the beliefs of others. There is no reasonable, factual evidence for the existence of "God" at all. It is not reasonable to cling to a faith-based belief; without evidence a faith-based belief is a sign of mental derangement.
 
I agree with author Sam Harris, who in his book, The End of Faith, makes a strong case why the continuation of theism will probably be the final agent that dooms humanity to extinction. The evolution of the human brain happened in a manner that allowed people to be reasonable in their day-to-day actions; the unreasonableness of "theism" will ultimately not be a naturally selectively advantage to the human species.
 
"Religious faith represents so uncompromising a misuse of the power of our minds that it forms a kind of perverse, cultural singularity - a vanishing point beyond which rational discourse proves impossible. When foisted upon each generation anew, it renders us incapable of realizing just how much of our world has been unnecessarily ceded to a dark and barbarous past." The End of Faith, p.25 (2005, 2004), W. W. Norton & Company.
 
In 21st-century America, the blight over the intellect seen in fundamentalist theists has taken on a new significance. Apparently, Jesus's high praise for people who believe what they are told without evidence has shaped the modern faith-holding Christian in a truly dangerous way. Now, a Christian may simply deny any aspect of reality that he does not enjoy dealing with just by being told by someone in the church that it's un-Christian to pursue such ideas. A Christian denies the fact of global warming. Leif Toudal Pedersen of the Danish National Space Center has observed that "the area covered by ice in the Artic has shrunk to just 1.15 million square miles, about 386, 000 square miles less than previous minimums reached in 2005 and 2006. In contrast, average ice loss in each year of the past decade had been about 38,600 square miles." (Discover, January 2008, p.23) Scientists measure these phenomenon, but a Christian believes without evidence what his or her pastor tells him. To a fundamentalist Christian, global-warming does not exist merely because he believes it does not exist.
 
Most fundamentalists believe that it is wrong to allow their children to read Harry Potter books because their pastor told them these books contain wizards and are bad books. These people could read the books themselves and allow their own eyes to see what is said and decide if it is bad or good, but they would rather believe what their pastor told them. These same people have never been told that The Lord of the Rings movies are bad, so apparently, the wizards in these movies are inexplicably OK. I asked a fundamentalist I know about this discrepency, and was told that the wizards in The Lord of the Rings are "allegorical." Though I was impressed that she knew how to use the word "allegorical" correctly in a sentence, I nevertheless had had no idea that Harry Potter is apparently supposed to be conceived as hard-core "realism."
 
The fundamentalists that put G.W. Bush into the White House believe that, since he is a Republican, he is a good guy. Those most extreme in their beliefs see no wrong in the sheer evil that this man has committed over the last eight years. The extended Bush family has profited since 9/11 more than any other single extended American family, and the 2nd-most profited family profited only 1/8th as much as did the Bush family. The Bush's profits from arms-trade in the Middle East, and even more so from their dealings with the oil business have benefited the Bush family tremendously. Who else is feeling "helped" by the current price of oil? Over seventy years ago, Congress established regulations to control excessive, largely unchecked market speculation and manipulation. But over the past few years, Bush quietly had Congress change laws, and "deregulated" restrictions on the amount of futures-investing allowable, and now millions of barrels of future oil are being traded back and forth, each time increasing the price of a gallon of gas at the pump. But apparently evidence is not relevant to modern fundamentalists, and G.W. Bush remains in their minds a good man, because they believe it is so.
 
The fundamentalist believes in the evils of "socialized medicine" because they have been told to believe this. They believe Cuba is an "evil nation" because they have been told that it is. They do not examine the evidence. They do not recognize the satisfaction and peace-of-mind that people have in Canada, England, France, Finland, and Cuba with regard to their socialized health-care systems. They do not bother to take note that people in Cuba have an average life expectancy three years longer than do people in the U.S.A. They disregard that, of all Western nations, America is only 37th with regard to our infant mortality rate. In spite of "love thy neighbor as thyself," fundamentalists do not want to have to pay (through taxes) the medical expenses of 50 million uninsured Americans. The evidence of other Western countries reveals that medical costs go down when all people are insured, and it is only the inequality of insured-versus-uninsured which enables insurance companies to pay whatever extortion fees the medical professionals wish to extract from them. A certain anti-cancer drug in America costs $100 for a small quantity of pills to be taken daily; in Cuba, this same bottle of pills costs the equivalent of 5 cents. But America will never have socialized health-care while the fundamentalists are allowed to vote.
 
The worst of all are the fundamentalists who go round praying and singing their hymns, and just don't really want to know anything at all about the contemporary world, because their faith assures them that we are in "The End Times" and this is all part of "God's will." These people are involved in a very dangerous kind of self-fulfilling prophecy. They are a threat to the very lives of all thinking humans, and nobody can afford to "just ignore the silly religious fanatics."
 
Fundamentalists just go around believing stuff, and knowing nothing. Yet they have the power to determine the shape of the country that I also live in. These people should have no right to enter into any public debate that determines national policies and laws. If they insist upon their "freedom of religion" in order to cling to their cherished fantasies, then they should absolutely be denied the "right to vote." There is a reason why the founding fathers of America insisted upon a separation of church and state. This separation is virtually non-existent nowadays. If humanity wishes to continue existing at all on this planet, we must carefully debate how to proceed with our future based on the best available evidence and most accurately reasoned response to that evidence. I stand opposed to fundamentalist theists. They are the great enemy of all humanity. They stand opposed to personal freedom and to reason. Anywhere on the planet, but especially within Institutions of Higher Learning, there is no room whatsoever for faith-based beliefs which flatly deny evidence. Faith-based beliefs have got to go, because, if they don't, it will result in the extinction of humanity.
 
 
Dr. Jody Nagel
July 15, 2008
 
 
 

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